The first figures are out from the ‘Friends and Family test’, David Cameron’s ‘Big Idea’ to fix the NHS. For what it’s worth here is a summary of the results for the first quarter as reported in the Daily Telegraph;
“36 wards were given a negative score in June, 38 in May and 66 in April.
10 A&E units also failed the test at least once between April and June, with the emergency department one hospital, Barnet and Chase Farm, receiving overall negative feedback three months in a row.”
In the end it’s just a gimmick, a very flawed survey where patients are asked whether or not they would recommend their hospital to family and friends, with boxes to tick from "very unlikely" to "very likely".
The reason why it’s no good is because to end up with a final figure number the negative responses are subtracted from the number of "very likely" responses to give each A&E unit and ward an overall score.
Here’s the problem;
The responses are rounded up or down and you end up with a ‘mean’, which doesn’t really tell you very much.
This is because most people who go into hospital are treated reasonably well. What we should be concerned about are the minority who receive bad care. This survey is designed to even away the minority who get really bad care. The fact that the test is biased to the ‘happy majority’ means only a consistently terrible hospital could fail on this test – so bad that it would be obvious anyway.
So far, the limitation of the data allowance on my dongle has prevented me from getting my hands on the raw data. At the moment this is the best I can offer;
If you go on NHS England and then to NHS Choices, select ‘find a hospital’ or ‘find an A and E’, put in your postcode and you will get a series of jolly buttons, telling you that everything is fine.
I’m going to steal some wi-fi and do some digging of my own.
In the meantime take Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospital;
The A and E score is 53 while the hospital score is 74.
The average scores for A&E units for the quarter were 45 for A&E and 70 for inpatient wards.
The silly buttons tell me this is OK, although it seems pretty meaningless without a closer look.
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