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 80.

    People who think that the NHS isn't so great woud do well to have to use the American system, especially if they find themselves out of work, usually meaning no health insurance. One of the first few questions in A&E there is what kind of insurance does the patient have ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    It's all too late for us in the UK. Nurses now are keen to do doctor's jobs and receive the appropriate acclaim. Simple and straight forward hands-on patient care proceeding from human concern are no longer deemed to be central to the conventional nursing role. This role has been devolved to "nursing auxilliaries."

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    The sad thing about the NHS is that is used as a political football, and every government kicks it about a bit more.

    It has been in existence for over 60 years, surely we should have got it right (approximately) by now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    so will the comments be just about nurses? what about those who are health care assistants who are the main carers in most hospitals? how about the cleaners and maintenance, management, food? how do we even know that the patient actually filled in the form? the conlibs know something needs to be done but instead of getting in there and doing it and taking resposibility they hide behind gimmicks

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    This is just an excuse to privatise any hospitals that receive low ratings.

    But of course privatisation is euphemistically called "reform".

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Ah: another complete waste of time and money, introduced to replace the previous complete waste of time and money and likely to be just as effective. Who thinks this up? That's right, the bunch who thought the last one up. . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    The problem with this kind of survey is that, whereas people will bend over backwards to be critical, they won't bother to give out 'pats on the back'. More window dressing, but won't cost a lot.
    For what it's worth, my opinion of hospitals and staff, as a rare visitor is fairly upbeat. On the other hand my wife, a kidney transplantee, and therefore a frequent visitor thinks they're the pits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    I thoroughly recommend St Thomas' Hospital. It has a lovely M&S food store and the wallpaper is nice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    And what happens when a hospital gets some bad ratings a private provider a doner to the tory party will be brought in and will suck some more patient care cash and deliver absolutly nothing more nurses means better care there is no other way

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I find it so hard to believe that the Medical Profession should be controlled, run and advised by a bunch of MPs who are not qualified in these fields. This should be left to a medical team of experts who can run the profession from their medical knowledge. We played nurses and doctors in the playground, thats where it should stay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Whilst this system might initially sound like a good idea, it's actually very divisive.

    Once something acquires a bad reputation, it's difficult to reverse public opinion & that in turn preempts the perceptions of others. (e.g. people think good wine tastes bad if told it was cheap).

    If a hospital acquires a bad reputation, would it be allowed to go bust losing huge amounts of public money?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Nurses aspire to be Drs prescribing and administering drugs, patient care is beneath them hence the lack of respect. Designating a nurse for each patient ended long ago and the preferred shift pattern, long working days in lieu of long days off has ended continuity of care. Employ fewer nurses, more auxiliary nurses to look after patients, shorten work days, have questionnaires for all patients.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I once worked as a Quality Management Consultant. This type of customer feedback was a common tool but it only works if it is acted on. We know what is wrong with the NHS: too many highly paid people who never come into contact with the patient. Too few people who do come into contact with the patient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    This is an excellent idea should it work in practise. Giving the ability of patients and their relatives to name and shame hospitals in instances of poor care, mal-practise and abuse and conversley praise those who do a good job, can only be a good thing.

    If you or your relative was treated badly, you'd want to say so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    The best way to improve nursing care & indeed most of the NHS would be to stop the back door privatisation being introduced by Lansley & to do something about those terrible PFI deals introduced under Nu-Labour.

    One of the most depressing things about UK politics nowadays is that both sides of the politic divide seem hell bent on destroying the NHS whilst simultaneously claiming to be saving it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    There is certainly a shortage of nurses and it is getting worse £ for £ the nhs is good value for money but we do need to spend more on it to try and squeeze more out of it without spending morewill only try and make matters worse

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Oh dear God these governments. Sometimes they make you feel like taking a bath with an electric fire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    So you can reccomend the hospital to others? Like you've got a choice!
    You have got a choice. If its an emergency they'll take you to the nearest hospital. But for non-critical treatment or surgery, there's 'choose and book' where you can choose almost whichever hospital you like in England. Geography limits it of course but I've used it for a knee op. and its excellent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    What a wonderful idea. Give the overstretched-too few nurses MORE paperwork to waste time on?! How about the government takes is nose out of a profession which it has done nothing but damage and let trained medical staff do their jobs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    My stay was 5 stars -- I could see them through the hole in the roof !!


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