A section of the site inviting patients to rate their practice went live last week, raising fears it could be abused by disgruntled patients. NHS Choices says the new section received 1,600 comments within 24 hours. The hospital section has had just 15,000 comments since 2007.
GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said that, anecdotally, 80 per cent of comments recommend practices to other patients. Dr Buckman said the GPC had not been 'wildly enthusiastic' about the site. But NHS Choices had introduced him to the firm responsible for moderating comments, he said.
'It has convinced me that it understands the risk of the manipulation of reviews and the risk of libel,' Dr Buckman said. 'It modified its rules in the light of the discussions we had, and I believe they are now robust and acceptable.'
NHS Choices now allows patients to publish comments about four topics: how easy it is to get an appointment, how staff treat them, how involved they feel in discussions about their care, and how highly they recommend the practice.
The site will hold information on opening times and facilities at England's 8,300 practices. Comments that are abusive or name staff will not be posted.
Questions remain over the accuracy of the site's information, however. GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul noted that many elderly patients did not have access to the internet. 'All website feedback comes from a self-selected group, rather than a breadth of opinion,' he said.