Significant variation between trusts in the response rates to the friends and family survey has sparked fresh concern about the test’s validity following publication of the first national results on Tuesday.
However, analysis revealed a “moderate correlation” with last year’s NHS’s annual inpatient survey, providing a boost for the controversial measure which has been consistently criticised for lacking statistical rigour.
The results cover feedback from over 400,000 patients who completed the test, which asks respondents if they would recommend a hospital to their friends and family, between April and June.
Data was collected from in-patients and accident and emergency departments.
However, A&E response rates averaged just 8 per cent, much lower than the 15 per cent NHS England targeted.
Nearly a quarter of inpatients completed the survey nationally, although trust performance varied markedly.
East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust managed to collect responses from just 1 per cent of patients while the Royal National Hospital For Rheumatic Diseases Foundation Trust had a response rate of 81 per cent.
Specialist hospitals scored far better than their general counterparts in the inpatient survey, making up the top 11 trust scores.
The Royal Marsden Foundation Trust topped the table with an average net promoter score of 95 over the three-month period. Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust came last, scoring 40.
However, initial analysis of the results undertaken by the Picker Institute found a “moderate correlation” between trusts’ performance on the friends and family test and last year’s in-patient survey.
Chris Graham, its director of research and policy, told HSJ: “We have found a stronger correlation than we might have expected.
“The June data is less strong in terms of correlation but the data over the quarter shows a moderate correlation.”
Mr Graham gave caveats around the data, stating the huge variety in responses rates could harm the data’s validity.
The institute stressed its analysis was preliminary. It also advised against compiling league tables of trusts’ performance.
NHS England national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey told HSJ there were correlations between the data and other measures. He stated that when inpatient and A&E scores were combined eight of the bottom 10 trusts were already under scrutiny from regulators.
Mr Kelsey said response rates would improve as trusts and patients got used to the test.
There remains significant opposition to the test. Critics cite opportunities for trusts to “game” results and lack of statistical rigour as major concerns.
Jocelyn Cornwell, director of the Point of Care Foundation, a charity seeking better experiences for patients, said: “The way in which the data is collected varies widely and is open to gaming.
“Also, the information provided is not meaningful. We know patients are more likely to be positive when they’re in hospital than when they’re at home.”
|Top five trusts, including specialist trusts||Score||Response rate (%)|
|The Royal Marsden FT||95||33|
|The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital FT||92||28|
|Liverpool Heart and Chest FT||91||35|
|Clatterbridge Cancer Centre FT||91||40|
|Papworth Hospital FT||90||31|
|Bottom five trusts, including specialist trusts||Score||Response rate (%)|
|North Middlesex University Hospital||52||22|
|Surrey and Sussex Healthcare||52||19|
|Cambridge University Hospitals FT||51||27|
|Royal Free London FT||51||8|
|Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals||40||36|
|The 14 Keogh review trusts||Score||Response rate (%)|
|Burton Hospitals FT||80||30|
|George Eliot Hospital||79||19|
|Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals FT||78||10|
|Colchester Hospital University FT||76||38|
|Sherwood Forest Hospitals FT||75||23|
|Blackpool Teaching Hospitals FT||73||26|
|The Dudley Group FT||72||26|
|Tameside Hospital FT||68||27|
|East Lancashire Hospitals||68||58|
|United Lincolnshire Hospitals||65||28|
|Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals||58||26|
|North Cumbria University Hospitals||55||13|
|Top five non-specialist trusts||Score||Response rate (%)|
|West Suffolk FT||85||34|
|Frimley Park Hospital FT||83||19|
|Hinchingbrooke Health Care||82||60|
|Worcestershire Acute Hospitals||81||27|
Source: NHS England