DENTISTS in England have been reminded that from 1 April 2015 they will be required to implement the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT).
NHS England has sent a letter confirming that the FFT requirement has been agreed with the BDA and, subject to the making of regulations by the Department of Health, will be written into the dentistry contract regulations.
NHS England states it is keen to support practices in FFT implementation and has placed a range of support materials on its website. A free start-up kit will also be sent to dental practices in March.
The FFT is a feedback tool which combines a simple question with at least one complementary follow-up question to enable patients to provide further detail about their experience. The required wording of the question is: “We would like you to think about your recent experience of our service. How likely are you to recommend to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?” The response options are: extremely likely, likely, neither likely nor unlikely, unlikely, extremely unlikely, or don’t know.
The guidance is not prescriptive on when during an appointment or interaction the patient should be offered FFT, stating: "Patients should have the opportunity to provide their feedback at any time, on any aspect of the service. Providers/practices may choose to offer the FFT at a particular point to gather feedback on a specific aspect of their service, but they are encouraged to seek feedback at the end of, or shortly after, the appointment/interaction. This is to enable patients to reflect and feedback on the whole experience."
The BDA has said it continues to have reservations about the value of the FFT to either patients or dentists, although recognising its inevitable implementation. Dr John Milne, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, wrote to the chief dental officer of England, Barry Cockcroft, stating: “The FFT test has been imposed in dentistry following the regular annual GDPC discussions with NHS England over efficiency savings, and accepted by the BDA in that context. That is certainly not the same thing as the BDA agreeing to the FFT requirement."
Recently the Government announced that FFT had reached a milestone by gathering its five millionth piece of feedback from patients. It claims the test has "grown into the biggest ever collection of patient opinion in any health service anywhere in the world and gives staff the ability to react promptly and make swift and lasting improvements to care provided".
Link to guidance: THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY TEST