GPs in Wales win patient survey victory

The patient experience survey in Wales for 2009/10 will be completed by patients in GP surgeries, rather than sent out by post.

Dr Bailey: practice-based surveys will produce more accurate results
Dr Bailey: practice-based surveys will produce more accurate results

GPC Wales chairman Dr David Bailey said that the controversial survey, which informs the PE7 and PE8 aspects of the QOF, will produce more accurate results if completed in surgeries. 

The survey will still be run by IPSOS Mori and contain the same questions as the rest of the UK - worth 58.5 QOF points or roughly £8,000 to the average practice.

Local, practice-based surveys were scrapped across the UK in 2008/9, when a new questionnaire was sent out by post to five million patients, at a cost of £8m. 

Low response rates resulted in five-figure losses for some practices, despite patients' overall satisfaction being high.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman welcomed the return to practice-based surveys in Wales, and was hopeful that Welsh results would help persuade the DoH to follow suit in England.

‘We might be able to show the DoH that it is a better system - that it produces a more reliable result that GPs and patients are happy with.'

In total, just 38% of patients responded to 2008/9 postal survey, down from 41% in 2007/8.

‘[Practice-based surveying] is a hell of a lot cheaper and more sensible. You're asking patients about their experience just after they've seen the doctor,' said Dr Buckman.

Arrangements vary across the UK. The 2009/10 patient survey in England is being sent in quarterly postal questionnaires. Patients in Northern Ireland will receive the same patient survey as England and Wales but it will be posted just once, between January and March.

In Scotland, the wording of this year's PE8 question has been adjusted, and the survey will be sent out once rather than quarterly.

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