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New patient ratings are released

Source BBC News@

Elderly patientThe test being recommended is known as the "friends and family test"

The first results of a new patient rating system in England, known as the "friends and family test", are to be published later.

The scheme, backed by the prime minister, asks patients if they would recommend the ward they were treated in to those close to them.

The data comes from thousands of people who stayed in hospital overnight, or attended A&E, in April, May and June.

Critics say the scheme is too blunt an instrument to provide useful data.

But David Cameron hailed the test as a simple way of getting patient feedback which could act as a warning that care needed improving, even down to individual wards.

The question asked is: "How likely are you to recommend our ward/A&E department to your friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?"

There are plans to further expand the test to maternity services in October, and to GP practices, community services and mental health services by the end of 2014, then to all parts of the NHS by the end of March 2015.

'Key plank'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the introduction of the friends and family test was an "historic" move for the NHS.

"This milestone moment is a key plank in our wider campaign to make sure that patients' voices are heard at every level of the NHS."

Tim Kelsey, NHS England's director of patients and information, said no other health service in the world had invited patients to give feedback on such a scale.

He added: "One of the key causes of the tragedy of Mid Staffs was that patients weren't listened to. This initiative will guarantee that the NHS is listening."

But Jocelyn Cornwall, director of the Point of Care Foundation, an independent charity working with health and social care organisations, said: "Collecting feedback is really important, but I think the question patients are asked doesn't make sense.

"Some hospitals were using much better methods of collecting feedback. But they've had to abandon what they were doing and replace it with this rather blunt instrument.

"Also, we know that patients are more likely to be positive when they're in hospital than when they're at home.

"There are good reasons for that - people feel vulnerable in hospital and worry that if they say something negative, it will rebound on them."

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