GPs attack plan by NHS Choices to rate practices out of 10

Plans to score practices out of 10 on the NHS Choices website will mislead patients, GP leaders warn.

Dr Richard Vautrey: 'Trying to judge practices in such a simplistic way will only mislead patients.'
Dr Richard Vautrey: 'Trying to judge practices in such a simplistic way will only mislead patients.'

Each practice in England is to be scored out of 10 on the NHS Choices website based on responses to the patient survey.

The DH said the scoring system will allow patients to make quick and direct comparisons between different GP practices and choose the right GP for their needs.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said trying to judge practices in ‘such a simplistic way’ fails completely to recognise the complexity of general practice.

He said: ‘Patients already have access to more information about general practice than many other areas of the public sector. It is important that we provide patients with information they can make sense of but which also takes in to account the local context. However trying to judge practices in such a simplistic way will only mislead patients and fails completely to recognise the complexity of general practice.’

Under the new plans, patients will also be able to find a GP practice with experience of treating people with similar conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and epilepsy.

The DH said publishing this data will help ‘GPs and the NHS to make improvements to the way they do things’.

Health minister Lord Howe said: ‘As we set out in our information strategy, we want to make it easier for patients to find the best NHS care for them.

‘Giving patients more information about their local NHS is a big part of our commitment to transparency and using data to drive improvements.

‘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.

‘This data will not only help patients choose the right GP surgery for them but will also give GP surgeries and the NHS new information they can use to make fresh, innovative improvements.’

Chief executive of the Patients' Association Katherine Murphy, welcomed the new measures. She said: ‘We welcome these proposals, because they will result in more information being available for patients when they are making a choice about which GP to register with. They will also enable patients to compare the performance of their own GP with others.

‘Our helpline is seeing a trend of increasing complaints about GPs, covering a number of areas, including difficulties obtaining an appointment, complaints about the behaviour of the reception staff and other factors that affect their overall experience. These changes will not resolve these issues overnight, but providing clear and easily comparable data is certainly a step forward.’

New data and an analytical tool are also due to be published on the NHS Information Centre website today which the DH hopes will ‘support GPs and the NHS to make improvements’. It is set to include data on how many patients from each GP surgery didn’t attend their first outpatient appointment at hospital, and delivery of pneumonia vaccinations for at-risk patients such as those over 65 or who have long-term chronic conditions.

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