David Cameron’s “friends and family” satisfaction survey of hospitals is regarded as unnecessary by the public and should be dropped in its current guise because it could be misleadingly negative about the NHS, according to a government-commissioned evaluation.
Under the prime minister’s plan, patients and staff will be able to score every hospital and GP in England on whether they would be happy for their loved ones to use the service. Cameron personally launched the scheme, which comes into place this month, claiming that it could act as a “flashlight” on the NHS’s failings.
However, a report from Ipsos Mori found a lack of interest among both staff and patients in the scheme. It also highlighted widespread concerns that the methodology subsequently chosen by the government for the survey would be misleading and advised that it should be dropped.
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More GPs than ever are considering early retirement because of increased workloads and changes to their NHS contracts and pensions, according to a survey of family doctors by the magazine Pulse.
The survey of 364 GPs found that about 43 per cent are now looking to retire earlier than they intended five years ago, with just under half saying that their plans had not changed. The average age of intended retirement is now set at 61 years, the report says.
Easter Monday was initially meant to mark the national launch of the telephone service, which is replacing NHS Direct, but half of all 111 lines are still inactive.
Just one local service, in the North of Tyne and Tees area, will be opened today, joining 22 which are already running as pilots, but a further 23 are not yet operational.
Doctors claimed health chiefs had been forced to backtrack on plans to roll out the service after repeated warnings that the system was inefficient and could compromise patient safety.
Robert Francis, the inquiry chairman, said that one of his top priorities was for the NHS constitution to be rewritten, making it explicit that “patients are put first” and “everything done by the NHS should be informed by this ethos”.
He recommended that the Health Secretary also consider stipulating that NHS staff “put patients before themselves”.
But the redrafted constitution, quietly released last week, simply states that the health service will “aspire” to put patients first.