NHS England said today that it is well on the way to expanding the Friends and Family Test (FFT) to all factions of the NHS, so that, by 2015, every patient can provide feedback on their experiences to help the public make better informed choices about which services they use.

However, following a review of the scheme, there will be changes to its implementation and the way data is presented, to help it more inclusive and clear up confusion amid staff and patients.

Health chiefs have now published guidance to help hospital trusts and the providers of NHS funded-services implement the FFT and encourage people of all ages to take part, to ensure greater responsiveness to patient needs and improve the design of local services.

Positive impact

The move comes after a review of the test in A&E and in-patient services, which found that, while having made a positive impact on the NHS thus far, with 78% of trusts believing it had increased the emphasis on patient experience, aspects remain in need of tweaking.

For one, NHS England said it intends to make the test easier for the public to understand, and for service providers to gather more personal comments from patients, by ensuring that trusts collect 'free text' comments from patients.

More transparent

It also promised to provide a more transparent presentation of the data to make it more accessible to both staff and patients, after the review found that the so-called net promotor (or test) score "was was not easily understood".

From December this year the FFT will be rolled out to GP practices, and from January 2015 to mental health and community services. It will further be extended from April 2015 to NHS dental practices and patient transport services as well, covering acute hospitals outpatients and day cases.