GPs to get NHS Choices rating
MedWire News: GP practices in England are to be given a score out of 10 on the NHS Choices website.
The rating - based on patients' responses to the GP Patient Survey - is a measure of patient experience that reflects, for example, how easy it is to get an appointment, how long patients have to wait to be seen and how well doctors and nurses explain conditions and listen to patients.
The Department of Health (DoH) said putting the data on the website will allow patients to make quick and direct comparisons between different GP practices in their area and choose the "right GP for their needs", and will "help drive up standards".
"Giving patients more information about their local NHS is a big part of our commitment to transparency and using data to drive improvements," said Health Minister Lord Howe.
"Opening up this data is another step forward in giving people more choice. Patients will now be able to see exactly what the experience of being a patient at each GP surgery is really like."
However, a BMA spokesperson cautioned: "Using new technology to further improve patient feedback does need to be considered, but it must be done in a way that provides accurate information which GPs can act on. Reducing surgeries to a score out of ten fails to allow patients to give detailed responses.
"The rating would also fail to take into account the differing challenges that each GP practice may face, especially in terms of resources, which are increasingly being squeezed by government cuts."
New practice-level data, such as missed outpatient appointments and pneumonia vaccination rates in at-risk groups, will also be published alongside an analytical tool on the Health and Social Care Information Centre website, the DoH said.
MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012
By Caroline Price