THE results of a new survey showed that the majority of patients at hospitals in Shepton Mallet, Taunton, Yeovil and Bath would recommend their hospital to others.
For the past 12 weeks every patient attending England's NHS district hospitals has been asked the question: "How likely are you to recommend our ward or A&E Department to friends and family?"
Results show the majority of Somerset patients were satisfied with their treatment and care and would recommend their hospital to others.
The most recent Friends and Family Test data published by NHS England only relates to district hospitals and independent treatment centres, such as Shepton Mallet Treatment Centre, but Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the county's 13 community hospitals (including Shepton Mallet Community Hospital) is asking the Friends and Family Test question of their community service patients as well.
It is not required to ask the question or publish its data, but Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spokesman Paul Courtney said: "As a trust they have been eager to embed the Friends and Family Test question to their service monitoring."
Mr Courtney added: "It seems most district hospital trusts and CCGs have welcomed the test question but have been swift to point out that the published data is largely based upon very low numbers of patients responding – particularly in accident and emergency departments.
"The data gathered by NHS England will come to be more meaningful once the number of patients responding rise and both hospitals and CCGs can start to spot any significant trends."
Lucy Watson, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) director of patient safety, said: "The Friends and Family Test is important. It marks a new era in transparency for the NHS and one which values patients' experiences and places them at the heart of service improvement.
"We expect response rates to the Friends and Family Test to increase in coming months. Local hospitals and Somerset's Clinical Commissioning Group will benefit from this source of up-to-date and comparable information.
"I would also encourage all hospital patients to take the opportunity to answer the Friends and Family Test question as it holds the promise of being a quick and direct way of bringing about rapid improvements to their local health services."
The decision to ask hospital patients in England a Friends and Family Test question arose in the wake of Sir Robert Francis QC's inquiry into the failings that took place at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Hospital Foundation Trust between January 2005 and March 2009.
The inquiry concluded that if the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust had asked their patients, relatives and their staff a single, simple question – would they be happy for their friends and family to be treated at the hospital – an early warning could have been sent to the hospital's senior management to take rapid action.
The results of the first-ever patient Friends and Family Test results were published on Tuesday, July 30. From now on NHS England will be publishing NHS Friends and Family Test data on a monthly basis for all district hospitals and accident and emergency departments.
The move is expected to encourage hospitals to act quickly on patient feedback and make timely improvements to care.