Computer to select patients for survey

Patients who complete surveys worth up to £24,000 per practice in 2006/7 will be chosen at random by computer, the GPC says, as it emerged that three quarters of Britons have never been consulted about NHS services.

In future, participants will be chosen from people who have had recent contact with their practice.

Patients with disabilities or mental health problems will be offered appropriate support to enable them to take part.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said that the survey would be available in several languages and Braille, and that sign language translators and mental health workers would be able to support patients when required.

Dr Buckman said it was yet to be decided if there would be a minimum age limit, and if guardians should be allowed to respond on a child's behalf.

Meanwhile, a survey by health education charity Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP) has found that 76 per cent of people have never been asked what they want from local NHS services, but that 74 per cent would like to have a say in how their local GP surgery is run.

Half of the 1,009 respondents said local people could not influence their local health service, and 68 per cent said they did not know how to feed in their views.

The survey also found that there has been little public involvement in practice-based commissioning schemes to date.

Just over half of PCTs in England said they had started work on practice-based commissioning, but 71 per cent of these said there was little or no public or patient involvement in this.

DPP chairman Dr David Wrigley said the GMS contract had meant more patients were being consulted and this participation would increase.

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