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Friends and family should judge all NHS, says Cameron

By Vivienne Russell | 4 January 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron has urged all parts of the English health service to adopt ‘friends and family’ tests to expose unacceptable standards of care.

The test, which asks patients and staff whether they would recommend services to a loved one, are to be introduced in every English hospital in April and trusts will be expected to act on their findings. But today Cameron called for them to be adopted by GP and community services as well.

He said: ‘The test is a simple measure but crucially will show whether there is a basic standard of dignity, cleanliness and respect. And I want the NHS to go further, with GP surgeries, district nursing and community hospitals using the test to improve the care they provide as soon as possible.’

A £50m ‘incentive pot’ is being made available to hospitals to support the rollout of the test, which has been piloted in the Midlands and East.

Cameron added that training was being offered to health care assistants to help them develop their careers and qualify as nurses. The Care Quality Commission is to review induction training for care staff and new minimum training standards are to be published within weeks.

Action is also being taken to improve NHS staff’s awareness and understanding of dementia and how to care for people with this condition, which affects a quarter of hospital in-patients.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said the health service was ‘totally committed’ to improving the quality of patient care.

‘We know we have a way to go and the NHS must fully embrace this challenge on behalf of the public,’ he said.

‘It's good to see the prime minister personally getting behind this issue. And overall these plans add up to a sensible package with the new drive around the training of care assistants particularly welcome.’

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