Practices overloaded with patient surveys

Practices are having to distribute too many patient surveys according to regulators.

The concerns come in the week when the first GP charged with fraudulently completing his own patient forms for the GMS quality framework was due to appear before the GMC.

This week also saw two million cards distributed to surgeries for patients to record GPs' offer of choice and the start of the DoH's contested access and waiting times survey involving five million questionnaires being sent directly to patients.

Both surveys are being conducted by polling organisation MORI.

Berkshire GP Dr Shantanu Rahman admitted to a performance panel of Bracknell PCT that he filled in around 90 patients' forms himself.

Although Bracknell PCT did not dock any quality points from the Waterfield Practice in Bracknell, where Dr Rahman was a junior partner, his senior partner referred him to the GMC. He left the practice at the end of December and returned to India with his GP wife. He will not appear in person before the GMC. The hearing is expected to conclude this week.

The deception came to light when GPAQ analysts at PatientDynamics saw the forms were completed in the same hand and the same pen.

‘In four years of analysing data from 1,500 practices we have raised three concerns,' said Andrew Smith, managing director of PatientDynamics.

A spokesman for Berkshire East PCT said that patient experience forms are no longer distributed to individual doctors. They are now left at reception and handed out randomly by an administrator.

However, companies admitted that although dishonesty rates were less than one per cent, it is impossible to police it.

Simon Davies, product development manager at Medelect Solutions which administers GPAQ-online, said his company distributed unique identifiers to GPs to pass on to their patients.

‘There is no safeguard against misuse, anyone with access to the identifiers could go in,' Mr Davies admitted.

Regulators at the Healthcare Commission believed that practices were receiving too many surveys. Ian Seccombe, survey lead at the commission, said there was a ‘need for a thorough review of patient surveys in primary care around the contents, the administration, the value and the cost and the use to which it is put and the way it is sampled.

‘There are opportunities to bring things together in a single instrument that would be administered robustly.'

The DoH said that the choice survey would be given to patients referred to secondary care in the period 16 January to 30 March 2007.

 

PATIENT SURVEYS

Number sent out this week by the DoH:

7 million

Dishonesty rate:

1%

source: DoH source: survey administrators

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