Results of the Share and Learn seminar on the Staff Friends and Family Test

Nurse, child and mother

25 / 9 / 2014 5.05pm

On 17th September NHS Employers organised a “share and learn” seminar on the Staff Friends and Family Test (Staff FFT). The event was run at the NHS Employer Horizon centre in Leeds. It was aimed at trusts outside of London and South East.

These sessions included:

  • A session from NHS England on the context for the Staff FFT and future likely policy developments.
  • A review of existing resources available from NHS Employers.
  • Small group discussions looking at the experience of trusts including Sandwell and West Birmingham, Derbyshire Community Healthcare Services and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Key points from the discussion groups included:

  • Implementing the Staff FFT had been a major challenge in a time of tight resources and quarterly surveys. There was concern over “survey fatigue” and how organisations would be able to demonstrate credibility in the Staff FFT when the time available to take action in response to an issue was very limited.
  • There had been a mixed response in terms of response rates. There was concern that the existence of the Staff FFT would adversely impact on the response to the Staff Survey. A smaller number of trusts had opted for the full staff census this year and it was not clear what the impact on response rates would be.
  • Most trusts had opted for an all staff census approach to the Staff FFT, where all staff were given the opportunity to take part in every quarter that it runs.  There were pros and cons of each approach; a selective approach allowed more detailed investigation of issues in some areas, whereas an all staff census created the opportunity for a regular “temperature check” for the whole organisation.
  • The free text box provision had produced a large volume of responses in some trusts. Although this had been a major challenge for many organisations it had also produced useful information on issues that needed to be tackled and ideas for improvement. Some trusts had been successful in generating positive responses by putting the survey in the context of overall approach to quality. 

There was some discussion on whether software tools could be developed or made available that would assist in analysis of this data. NHS Employers and NHS England had shared some existing free or low cost tools which were now being tested by a number of organisations. The general view was that although it is a major challenge, there is a great deal of information to be gained from a workforce professional looking at the data. 

Other points raised during the discussion:

  • There continued to be a perception that confidentiality was an issue in some places even though steps has been taken to reassure staff.
  • The Staff FFT had been most successful in those trusts where it had been integrated with an overall approach to staff engagement and built on existing approaches. 
  • It was recognised that NHS England was not seeking to utilise the Staff FFT as a benchmarking tool or for comparison between trusts (as these would not be valid especially in the first quarter). It was clear though that others could do so and there could be an adverse impact on morale as a result.
  • The Staff FFT was not intended to be a mechanism for raising concerns/whistleblowing but it had been used to raise issues in some places.
  • The Staff FFT had been most successful where it was part of an overall approach to use data including views from patients in the patient FFT. Patient commentary had tended to be very positive and this had had a positive impact on morale. Triangulation of data had helped address issues.

Further reading

NHS Employers has published a briefing on early lessons from the Staff Friends and Family Test and this will be updated in the near future.

Access the national results for the first quarter of Staff Friends and Family Test which were published on the 24th September 2014.

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