Patient surveys 'could result in popularity contest'

The BMA has warned that doctors may be rated for their popularity rather than the quality of their service if watchdogs over-rely on patient surveys.

In a response to the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) consultation on how to assess healthcare providers' quality of care, the BMA said an over-reliance on patient reporting would ‘not be desirable'.

The response said: ‘There is a danger that the patient experience may be confused with quality of care and that doctors are rated for their popularity rather than the quality of their service.

‘That is not to say that the patient experience is necessarily less important than clinical quality, particularly where the condition is less serious, rather that both need to be seen as separate entities worthy of assessment.'

But the BMA said it was generally supportive of the CQC's shift in emphasis from targets to outcomes.

It also said it would support the adoption of indicators that can provide clinicians with a ‘clear steer' on how to improve services.

‘The BMA supports the adoption of processes that are evidence based and proven to elicit better clinical outcomes, rather than the adoption of process per se,' it said.

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