FPM Blog - Anonymous Blogger

The Secret Diary of a Practice Manager Part 20

I sometimes wonder where the government/NHS gets their ideas from.

I have always felt that the Friends and Family Test (FFT) was a waste of time and money. Please correct me if I am wrong or have missed the whole point of it, but it has now - in my eyes - become farcical.

The idea behind FFT is to ask the patient whether they are happy with their surgery, and would they recommend it to a friend. However, surely most people would change doctors if they were not happy. So what actually is the benefit of the exercise?

At my practice we have decided to implement the Friends and Family Test by printing out small cards with the questions on, handing them out at reception and in consulting rooms. We’re also putting it on the website and have posters up in the waiting room. All these methods are simple, effective, and not too costly.

While people will initially fill in the forms - like everything else - not many will be filled in and we will struggle. I have been assured that if we only get one result, and that is positive, we will have 100% recommendation. So is it worth the effort for an unrepresentative result?

I am sure, like us, you have been bombarded with companies offering to take the whole thing off your hands and for a fee of anything up to £90 per month. I cannot see anyone taking up such an offer, but maybe I have it wrong - please do explain why you would do this if you do plan on paying for your Friends and Family Test?

There is, however, the opportunity to add a bespoke Friends and Family Test for free if you use My Surgery Website (MSW) - which my practice does.

So why do I feel angered and bemused by the whole thing?

This week we also received an email from our CCG. This CCG, like every other one in the country, is struggling with budgets and constantly telling us they have no money and costs must be cut.

However, in the email they say that they are going to fund tablets (electrical version) for every surgery in the locality up to March 2016.

They will come to each surgery to fit a tablet, ensure there is a working Wi-Fi connection, provide two training sessions and cover it for damage and theft - all for FREE.

That will be an expenditure of somewhere in the region of £30,000 for all surgeries in our locality.

There is no mention of how people may want to do this from home, or at a later date from the appointment though.

Is that money well spent by the CCG? I will leave you to ponder this question. If other CCGs across the country are going to do this, just think of the expenditure.

It is always easy to spend other people’s money, but this is just gross wastage in my view and I hope that the CCG decide to use this money in a more constructive way instead.

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Comments

Val Hempsey 20/04/2017

Totally agree with all comments above, this is a mindless and inexplicable waste of nhs time and money. Do not know whose bright idea it initially was but they should be held to account for the mess it is. I have recently been told I am an outlier as i have not completed my FFT but i refuse to do so and make myself and the practice a fraud. it is very easy to complete them yourself or ask a friend of the practice to complete one just in order to tick the box and for what purpose? No one is taking a blind bit of notice of the outcomes, only the tick box. Another bureacratic piece of rubbish thought up by someone with no clue how primary care works. I could think of dozens of other ways to get good patient feedback or improve patient outcomes but why ask me, a PM of donkeys years experience, they will continue to ask some faceless and dumb consultant who has 'set themselves up' as an expert charging ridiculous fees which seems to prove credibility. God help us.

Jo Dunkley-Hughes 01/02/2017

I totally agree it is a ridiculous waste on money. They were introduced by our CCG about 2 years ago and having asked PM's close to my surgery very few are actually using them. We did try, but our patient population is mostly Asian (many only speaking Gujerati or Hindi) and it was a complete failure. My tablet is sitting in a box, unloved and used.

Anna Richardson 02/04/2015

I totally agree with you, this whole exercise is a complete waste of time and money. I can understand commercial companies asking this question about a product they are selling; Primary Care is a service. When this exercise was first introduced to Practice Managers in the area where I worked (today is the second day of my retirement!!) the team from NHS England and representatives mainly from secondary care who came along to sell this idea to us consisted of about six people (all of whom I am sure were on high salaries) when one would have done. The comment made by a member of the team was "I can tell by the body language emanating from the room that none of you think this is a good idea, but it is in your contract and we have to comply" at which point a senior member from the room said, "then I suggest that you take our comments back to the people on high" and tell them that this is a total waste of NHS time and money. At that point a senior Practice Manager left the room, in the 25 years I have worked with this person I have never seen that happen before, my only regret is that I did not follow. When will Government talk to the people who do the job? I recently attended a meeting in London at which a senior Conservative Party member stated "we have to reduce the BACK ROOM BODS" to which I replied then Government needs to stop giving Primary Care mindless exercises to do."


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