New patients' ratings 'to improve NHS care'

Elderly patient The test being recommended is known as the "friends and family test"

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A new NHS patient rating system is to be introduced to help improve nursing care in England, the government says.

From April 2013 patients will be asked if they would recommend the hospital they were treated in to friends and family - with the results made public.

It is the first recommendation the government has accepted from its Nursing Quality Care Forum.

But there was no commitment on a host of other recommendations, including a call to review staffing levels.

Concerns have been raised about staffing levels in recent months after 2011 data showed the number of nurses employed by the NHS had fallen by 3,500 - 1% of the total - in a year.

The Royal College of Nursing has called for minimum staffing levels, saying care is being compromised because nurses are overstretched.

Financial constraint

The forum - set up by ministers in January after a series of critical reports into standards of care - said staffing levels was one of the major issues voiced during its review.

It said boards should review staffing levels and action should be taken where needed.

Start Quote

Giving nurses the time and resources to care is crucial”

End Quote Peter Carter Royal College of Nursing

The forum also said nurse leaders needed to be given the time and support to lead.

And it called for nurses to be recruited on their ability to show compassion and care as well as their academic skills.

These are just some of a host of recommendations made by the forum across a range of areas, including the use of technology and management structures.

But the prime minister will make only one firm commitment when he makes his first response to the forum on Friday.

That will be on the so-called "family and friends test".

This already forms part of the annual staff survey.

David Cameron will say: "Like everything else we're doing in our health service, this comes down to the same thing: making sure that everyone who walks through the doors of our NHS gets the best care they possibly can."

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the announcement was good "as far as it goes" but no substitute for "getting a grip on what matters to patients".

He said: "David Cameron now wants to hear the views of patients, but it's a shame he wouldn't listen to them when they were pleading with him in their thousands to drop his bitterly contested NHS re-organisation."

He said people were waiting longer in A&E and on trolleys in corridors, and wards were closing.

Forum chairwoman Sally Brearley welcomed the decision to back the "friends and family test" and said the group wanted to continue to work with government.

Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, also backed the move.

But he said it was important ministers looked at the other issues raised.

"This report echoes what the RCN has been saying about the importance of staffing levels and skill mix. In these times of financial constraint we must ensure that the level of nursing care is sufficient across all settings," he said.

"Giving nurses the time and resources to care is crucial."

But Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "The proposed 'friends and family test' is a good start to highlight which hospitals need to improve their care but it is too basic to make real improvements on the ground.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    170. Name Number 6

    Tories hate the NHS, it's socialism that works.


    Socialism will always work if you throw enough money at it. The problems start when the money runs out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.


    Thanks. One of the most obvious things we, as a family, learnt was a the unbelievable lack of communication both within the hospital (Nurses having to get care decisions from Doctors and Consultants who seemed to be never on duty) and local GP and community nursing provision (Referral to and discharge from Hospital) It was almost a full time job my having to coordinate everything

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Lyssen, thank you for your dedication. I appreciate the work you do and I am sure many others appreciate it too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    The Vocational Vs Education debate is a mute point. A vast portion of my 'degree' I spent at the patients' bedside. Specialisation/education only improved the level of care I can provide to my patients. As for caring; you'd have to look hard to find an uncaring nurse. Plenty of tired, stressed, demoralised, unappreciated, at breaking point nurses but an uncaring one? Not likely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Skywatchman, I am sorry to read about your elderly relative. My father experienced a long delay when he broke his leg. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune to do it at the weekend when the accident and emergency ward was packed with idiotic drinkers. If I hadn't seen it for myself I wouldn't have believed it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    A bit late but I hopeful this idea will make a difference. My experience of helping an elderly relative with terminal cancer we had to fight tooth and nail with the local hospital, local GP / care services just to get the basics right. On two occassions our relative was discharged from hospital late evening and then had to be immediately returned by emergency ambulance as a 'Failed Discharge'

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    178. firemensaction
    "My grandad remembers a time when 6d a week paid for the doctor."
    ...and bread was 1d a loaf. Times have moved on and he never had access to what we take for granted today. We are living longer today and modern medicine must be playing a part in that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Goodnight dear Grumps.

    Ventilators don't need re-booting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    If your colleagues were as caring as you two were as good at arguing then the NHS would be fine.

    @Macfluff - Get some sleep, I don't want to be responsible for your pts because you nodded off instead of rebooting the ventilator

    @Winter Wonderland - you should recalculate your pension entitlement because if you need another 5 years we're all stuffed.

    Goodnight to you both.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    To add to mcfluffs post. When I go to visit a patient at home who has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer, for example. Do I simply carry out basic nursing care and leave. The patient will probably have complex and multiple needs both physical and pyschologicial. Or maybe I could simply leave a 'care ratings' survery and leave. Which would you suggest?

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    I realise I'm probably silly for even opening my mouth but as a nurse I try as hard as I can but there's not enough hours in the day. I regularly stay late to finish my paperwork. I only have two hands and one heart and try as I might I cannot be everywhere I need to be at once. This'll mean another tick sheet. More precious minutes wasted when I could be with my patients where I want to be!

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Grumpyoldman...I shall reiterate. Basic nursing care is the basis of everything we do. Nurses undertake basic nursing care day in and day out as part of our complex role. I would love to retire. However, my pension is so small I cannot afford to do so for another five years or so. I love my job I simply wish I could do it better, I am not allowed to do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    @185.Walking in a Winter Wonderland

    No I don't think anyone has any idea why nurses have a degree but its nice for you to have eh?

    Did you not read any of my last post? I didn't even mention a degree, I think you could also be a politician.

    It might not be a university education but somethings gone wrong with nursing, you don't seem to care about patients anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Ah yes, tomorrow when I go to CARE for my patient in multi-organ failure I'll stick to the basics and run away every time the ventilator or any of the extensive monitoring alarms.Try not to feel so threatened by nurses with degrees and actually, shockingly - you may not even be able to tell by looking who has one and who doesn't! Fair to condemn all due to your bad experience? - not really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    The ratings on this debate says all their needs to be said about the NHS, When there are 1 million or more people working for the NHS who can effectively vote out any change to the NHS it is never going to change.

    The NHS is a basket case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Grumpyoldman You probably have no idea why nurses need degrees as you have no idea of the reality of the average nurses role. I do not expect you too and the majority of the general public have little idea either.
    Why is it acceptable for physios, OT's, speech therapists, dieticians etc., to have degrees but not nurses. Having a degree does not make one less able to care....btw I have a degree!

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    firemensaction #167
    "Perhaps the govt should bring back the one idea that worked.
    When John Major was PM he introduced the Patients Charter.
    If you were in hospital and asked for a Patients Charter complaint form, you got immediate attention."

    Ah, yes, the Wonderful Whingers' Charter: Priority not according to clinical need, but according to who shouted loudest (not good for the very breathless).

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    @182.Walking in a Winter Wonderland

    You mention that nursing covers a wide range of skills and roles beyond nursing - exactly the problem with current nurses. No-one wants do the basic nursing care thats necessary.

    If I were you I'd retire - you're entitled to 2/3 of your current salary for life. Wish I was in your position, don't be too disillusioned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Grumpyoldman.....Your latest post confirms your total ignorance of the role of a nurse. Basic nursing care is the basis of our work but nursing covers a whole range of skills and roles. I work as a district nurse which is rather different to the role of an hospital nurse. I have been a nurse for 38 years and have not known nurses to be so demoralised as we are today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    I'd like to complete a feedback from on private care lobby representative Andrew Langley - regarding the return on tax payer investment exceeding £1 billion in "reorganising" the NHS.
    I'd like to know how privatising the NHS Is of benefit to me and most folk.
    I'd like to know why we are not allowed to see the. risk register


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