The DoH has confirmed that the cost of the two surveys, covering access and Choose and Book, could be as high as
£11 million. This includes the hiring of market research firm Ipsos MORI as well as postage, writing questionnaires and analysis.
However GPs, including Kent LMC medical secretary Dr Mike Parks, believed the cost was too high. ‘I can’t believe that this couldn’t have been done any cheaper,’ he said.
He was particularly critical of the survey into Choose and Book, which is asking two million patients who are referred on to hospital whether they have been offered a choice as, ‘another example of how little the government trusts us’.
‘All these cards will do is tell the government what we could have told it for free, that we are doing our job properly,’ Dr Parks said.
Dr Richard Hook, a GP in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, also believed that the cost was too high and that the access survey, which is being sent to five million patients’ homes, in particular is unlikely to present an accurate picture of patient views.
He said: ‘The government will get a response from those with strong views but I suspect the majority, who are just content with the service, will just bin the forms. I think it has gone about it the wrong way entirely by posting them to people.’
GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘We thought the total cost was £13 million. We have always said this was expensive and a waste of resources. If this funding had been in the direct control of GPs we would not have felt this was good value for money.’
Both the DoH and Ipsos MORI have denied the cost was too high. Juliet Brown, Ipsos MORI project manager, said it was the ‘biggest patient survey of its kind carried out in this country.’
A DoH spokesman added that the £11 million is the maximum to be spent and included the start-up costs to ensure the survey can be run over a number of years.
The findings of the survey are set to be revealed in summer and will help determine practices’ access directed enhanced service money, set to be worth around £12,000 to the average practice and £105 million across England.