Lawyers warn website allowing patients to review GPs

Libel lawyers have written to the creator of a new website that reviews GPs, warning of impending legal action.

Any member of the public can now post and read reviews about named GPs on iwantgreatcare.org, which launched this weekend.


But Carter-Ruck Lawyers, which specialises in defamation and media law, has issued a formal notice on behalf of 37 doctors to express their concerns about the website.


The firm says it has ‘grave concerns about the potential for inaccurate, irresponsible and defamatory allegations being published on the website'.


The letter warns that the systems currently in place to monitor unsuitable posts do not stop defamatory remarks from appearing.


Over 2,500 reviews were placed on the website in its first day. Only those attracting suspicion or reported are taken down.


The formal notice will be used in court -should a libel case occur -to prove that doctors had warned the website about their concerns.


The website's founder, specialist Dr Neil Bacon said

'The systems to protect doctors are fantastic and secure. I have developed this for a year. I have spoken to doctors, legal advisors the DoH and the colleges.

'I am not at all worried - I know the system protects doctors. I'm confident the system is legally sound.

'The vast majority of comments have been positive -interestingly, the small number of spoof and malicious comments we have received have been traced back to doctors.

'The vast majority of doctors are open and embracing this. When they see how effective it is, I'm sure others will too,' he added.

Dr Bacon, who also created the forum doctors.net.uk, says allowing doctors and patients access to reviews and ratings will drive up standards of care.

But the BMA says the website will leave GPs susceptible to personal vendettas and libellous remarks.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘I think the idea of patients giving their opinion is reasonable but the opportunity for manipulated opinion, both positively and negatively, is considerable.

‘It doesn't measure what GPs do, it measures what people think about them.'

The opportunity to rate named practice staff other than GPs is not offered.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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