DoH advisers attack Darzi plans for practice ratings

Evidence that publicly ranking GP practices can improve health outcomes is almost non-existent, according to a think-tank staffed by former DoH advisers and top NHS managers.

As Lord Darzi announced plans last week to let patients rate GP surgeries' performance in a form similar to the Zagat restaurant rating system, a Health Foundation report highlighted the failure of similar schemes.

Researchers uncovered several instances in England 'where the public release of performance results could be a disincentive for improvement'. The study found that the release of performance data has spiralled in the last 10 years in the US and the UK.

The London Health Observatory is publishing practices' QOF data and invites patients to rate their GP. GP scorecards, originally used by PCTs as a performance management tool, are to be made public in some areas in 2009.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said that practice rating data often did not represent practices fairly.

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