Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust has been rated joint top in the inaugural results of “friends and family” patient satisfaction test, recently endorsed by the prime minister.

NHS Midlands and East is the first region to publish the government’s favoured measurement of patient experience.

Hinchingbrooke, which has been managed by private provider Circle since February, achieved the highest score along with Shropshire specialist provider Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital Foundation Trust.

Circle chief executive Ali Parsa told HSJ the results were vindication for Circle’s partnership model, under which staff are encouraged to take an “entrepreneurial” approach to improving the services that they provide.

“Circle’s partnership model and entrepreneurial ambition offers an alternative to cuts and closure for struggling NHS hospitals across the country,” Mr Parsa said. “We should be allowed to do more.”

RJAH chief executive Wendy Farrington Chadd said she “delighted” with the results. “Recommendations to family and friends is a real ‘acid test’ for quality of care experience. 

The strategic health authority cluster, which developed the initiative, is collecting data on a monthly basis from its 46 acute hospitals. The prime minister announced in May that the test would be rolled out to all hospitals in England from April 2013.

HSJ understands the government is particularly keen on the friends and family test, as it believes it is an easily understood measure which can act as a proxy for the state of the service as much as waiting times did in the last decade.

Under the test, which is based on “net promoter scores” used in the private sector, patients are asked at the end of their treatment: “How likely is it that you would recommend this service to friends and family?”.

The proportion of respondents that are very unlikely to recommend a provider, also called “detractors”, is subtracted from the proportion of “promoters” to give a score ranging from 100 to -100.

The average score across the region was 62. Scores ranged from 89, achieved by Hinchingbrooke and RJAH, to Luton and Dunstable Hospital Foundation Trust’s 29 (see attached file, right, for the full results table).

There was little difference in performance between FTs and non-FTs, with 17 per cent of FTs scoring below 50 compared with 16 per cent of non-FTs.

NHS Midlands and East director of policy and strategy Stephen Dunn said: “This is not a ‘name and shame’ exercise, as all hospitals had positive scores.”

But he added: “Those who are towards the bottom need to understand why and do something about it.”

Luton and Dunstable had a survey response rate of less than 10 per cent – the target benchmark set by the SHA cluster – and did not wish to comment until it had a “properly representative sample”.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital FT scored 35. Its chief executive, Gavin Boyle, said: “The Friends and Family test is new and it’s early days, but we can see its potential benefit as a further way we can listen to our patients. We’re listening and we’ll be using the Friends and Family results to target where we need to make the difference.”

Natalie Forrest, director of nursing at West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust, which scored 46, said the organisation was “very disappointed”. “The trust is anticipating improved net promoter scores as this new data collection process becomes more embedded within the trust’s working methods, and we respond to the feedback of our patient’s experiences,” she said.

A spokesman for Cambridge University Hospitals FT, which scored 41, said “surveys like these are very important to us” but highlighted it had been named by Dr Foster as one of the country’s top four trusts in 2011.

A spokesman for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust, which scored 44, said the trust was a “little surprised” at the result. “We are analysing the data but are confident over the next couple of months this score will increase.”


Friends and Family net promoter score: top five scores     
Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust89
Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and district Hospital89
West Suffolk Hospitals Trust    84
The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust    83
Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust    83


Friends and family net promoter score: bottom five 
West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust   46
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust 44
Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust  41
Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust35
Luton and Dunstable Hospital Foundation Trust 29