Chris Lancelot on ... The writing on the wall

If you want an example of the DoH at its most crass - and to realise just what it does behind your back - then log on to www.nhs.uk and search for your own practice (if the site is still online, use the menu on the left, click on 'Doctors', then 'Surname search').

How splendid of the DoH to make public the details of every practice.

Except that there is one thing missing: accuracy. I have yet to hear from a practice whose information has been displayed properly. The contact telephone numbers may be wrong, opening times are often incorrect: a few practices are listed as being open on Saturdays and Sundays.

Use the menu on the right. Many practices are missing a doctor or else include doctors who have long since retired. Some appear to have no nurses, nor a practice manager. The site may state categorically that 'This practice does not provide any clinics' when clearly you do.

And if you think this looks bad, it was worse last week. Against each entry was a link to a leaflet that the DoH had created on your behalf - 'A Guide to Our Services' - couched as though you had written it. How arrogant of them to think they could do this without requesting our permission or asking if we would prefer to submit our own text and/or a link to our own website.

This DoH website is an insult. The publication of out-of-date information makes us look slack, uncaring and incompetent. The whole site is an anti-advert - a spoiler of all our good work. To make things worse, practices cannot alter their information directly: they have to ask their PCT.

So look up your own practice's information to see what the DoH is saying on your behalf. Tell them where the information is wrong and ask them to change it.

Following a storm of protest last week, the DoH withdrew the link to the 'Guide'. We must watch for its return, to ensure its contents truly reflect our practice structure, ethos and procedures. In truth, this text should be under each practice's direct control. We and our representatives need to lobby for this - not as a privilege but as a right.

- Dr Lancelot is a GP from Lancashire.

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