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 40.

    Yet another load of meddling by those who have nothing better to do than waste time and money trying to find fault in others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The NHS is already a money pit. It isn't money needed it is a change in ethos and attitude on the part of the management and staff.

    Yes, once it was a fine institution. Not sure it can ever be recovered as the motto now is 'My members want ...' ad nauseam

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    'Concerns have been raised about staffing levels in recent months'

    I'm not surprised, the way they're treated!! How about supporting them and listening to them rather than adding another layer of pressure and scrutiny?!

    Seems that in this country we treat the people we really need the worst - teachers, nurses, emergency service members - they're always guinea pigs for daft govt initiatives!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    What a great way of determining which hospitals to privatise first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    As long as there are more nurses like Joanne Whalley in "the singing detective" then I'll vote for them !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    eMikey #8

    "This is well overdue! Some local authorities seem to have very little care about their patients wellbeing, regardless of their rhetoric."

    Note that local authorities have nothing to do with this, they do not run hospitals. A simple mistake, but does suggest that your comments are poorly informed.
    LAs Do call people Clients, not Patients, a horror direct from the private sector ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Nursing care in this country, like most things, has been watered down and weakend to such a low standard that anything we expect is normally slightly less than below average. As long as anything works 5 times out of 10, in the peoples eyes its as close to a success we could ever hope to get. So in a nutshell, because we expect little and get less this rating sytem can do little harm. Or can it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    So you can reccomend the hospital to others? Like you've got a choice! Hmmmm, shall I visit a hospital or not? Shall I decide to be ill or not? A glaring difference between a hospital and, say, a hotel?

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    when last in my local hospital there was a questionaire to fill in. whats different about this one. is it just another case of con/dems replacing one form with another form. i suspect it is. what a waste of time!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Ever asked yourself why there is not enough money to treat people who are ill.

    There are not enough beds to go round so people end up being left in corridors.

    Why does a sovereign country do this to its own people ?

    Once people figure out what all the problems in this country boil down to they are not going to be very happy.

    The central bank is destroying your whole way of life as we speak.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    This is not the way to improve standards. The right way is to employ sufficient staff of the right calibre, including supervisory staff (matrons, as we used to call them) with nursing experience, high standards and the ability to impose discipline.
    Waiting for the public to comment on what has gone wrong (or right) is too late, doesn't identify the root cause, and creates more bureaucracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    "For far too long there has been far too little accountability in the public sector and this needs to change!

    We need more accountability!"

    Please, no. NHS staff (like teachers and social workers) are drowning in bureaucracy already, much of it done in the spurious name of accountability. We do the best we can with the resources available, and the bureaucracy makes that ever harder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I can see through this already. They cut staffing levels so that care is compromised. Friend and Family will say the care is terrible. Govt. blames this on waste in the NHS and voila - they privatise the hospital/clinic/care home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    HELEN_of_TROY #1:

    "We have all heard the hospital horror stories.
    It is time the authorities heard them too."

    The authorities have heard them.

    Usually from the nurses themselves.

    Look up Graham Pink and Margaret Haywood, amongst many others, to find out how the authorities react. And read Private Eye to find how many NHS staff end up with gagging clauses at employment tribunals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Here's an idea for improving nursing care - instead of wasting money on pointless surveys and the bureaucracy to process the collected information, how about injecting those funds into front line services. We don't need a "test" to know resources are stretched to their limits and nurses don't have the time to give patients the attention they require. We know the problems - we need solutions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    This sort of thing has worked wonders for hotels.

    As staying in a hospital is far more important than your holiday trip - this is a great idea. It finally means that NHS staff will be accountable for their level of service and care (good and bad).

  • Comment number 24.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    So when I go to hospital and am left unfed, given the wrong medication, deprived of sleep by nurses shouting in the corridors all night, handled poorly by nurses with zero knowledge of my life-threatening medical condition, and discharged with a post-surgical infection, as happened to me in March, how exactly is this going to be resolved by my commenting that I wouldn't recommend the hospital?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    When will these very clever people understand that since the replacement of matrons by bean counters and administraters the costs have soared and the standards dived. Bring back the qualified , dedicated , professional , and responsible matrons. Their standards and dicipline will never be imitated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.


    Hahaha! OMG! Are you for real?

    You must be one of those public sector twits that goes "...erm I pay taxes too..".

    Look at it this way; "if you work in a small charity and you contribute 20% of your wages to it every pay day", how long would it be before you run out of money? That's right! Not long at all.

    And guess where the new money comes from? That's right! The private sector!


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