The Prime Minister has today announced details of an NHS ‘friends and family’ test as part of his drive to ensure patients are cared for with compassion and respect and to identify the best performing hospitals in England.
From April 2013, in the wards and A&E of every hospital, patients will be able to answer a simple question: whether they would want a friend or relative to be treated there in their hour of need.
By making those answers public and comparable across hospitals, everyone will have a clear idea of which wards, A&Es and hospitals are providing the best care - and drive others to raise their game.
The new friends and family test is a result of a recommendation from the Nursing Quality Care Forum, which was launched in January to share best nursing practice.
In an open letter today to the PM today, the body has also recommended:
- a call for action to increase the number of staff who would be happy to recommend the quality of services that their trust provides if their own loved ones needed care
- making sure nurses are recruited for their caring nature and compassion as well as their knowledge and skills • calling on organisations to look at how nurses and their teams could use technology to free up more time to care and avoid patients being asked the same questions again and again
- improving training for nurse leaders to give them more independence and authority
- nurse leaders, whether ward or community based, having the time to lead and be accountable for their clinical area.
The Prime Minister said:
Nurses are the beating heart of our NHS. The kindness, gentleness and calm they provide are completely invaluable to the millions of people they look after each year. To me, nothing matters more in our NHS than the quality of that care - and no one knows better how to improve it than nurses themselves.
That’s why we set up the Nursing Care and Quality Forum: to find out what works best; to share that knowledge; to lead an improvement in standards from the bottom up. I’m delighted to see the progress the Forum has already made.
And to really make sure that patients get the right care, we’re moving ahead quickly on one of their main recommendations: the friends and family test. In every hospital, patients are going to be able to answer a simple question: whether they’d want a friend or relative to be treated there in their hour of need. By making those answers public we’re going to give everyone a really clear idea of where to get the best care - and drive other hospitals to raise their game.
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 - the sick, the hurt, the elderly, the frail - gets the best care they possibly can. That’s always been the spirit of our NHS, and that’s the way we are determined it should stay.
Today the Prime Minister will also reveal plans to rollout the NHS safety thermometer, which provides nurses and other care staff with a simple template to check basic levels of care, identify where things are going wrong and take action.
During a pilot across 160 NHS organisations last year, the national data showed an overall reduction in blood clots by 72%, pressure ulcers by 42% and urinary infections in patients with catheters by 33%.
Pressure ulcers, falls, urinary catheter infections and blood clots are among the most common preventable problems in hospitals and care homes and cost the NHS up to £1 billion every year. At least 200,000 patients experience one or more of these problems whilst being treated.