Patients to rate practices on website

Patients in England will be able to comment on and rate their practice on an NHS website launched in June called NHS Choices.

It will be run by Dr Foster Intelligence, a partnership between the DoH’s Information Centre for Health and Social Care and health information provider Dr Foster.

Natalie Robson, marketing communications manager for NHS Choices, said the initial focus would be hospital care but this would be extended to general practice in England.

‘Users can leave feedback about their primary care experiences and rate their practice,’ she said.

While the practice will be identified, individual GPs would not be named, said Ms Robson. Patient feedback that named GPs would be removed by an independent moderator. 

‘It is expected that all comments will be moderated before being published on the site,’ added Ms Robson.

But GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said that patient feedback may not provide valuable information to the public. Such a scheme would not provide a representative survey of patients.

‘This may attract a fairly select group of people. People tend to report bad experiences rather than good,’ he said.

The website could encourage malicious comments from patients, added Dr Meldrum.

 ‘One could have some concerns about the information. I’d rather have evidence-based information, rather than subjective comments from patients.’

He said that there was information available to patients such as quality framework scores and the types of services on offer from a practice.

Dr Meldrum added that the website should be piloted to establish potential problems.

The DoH said NHS Choices would ‘empower patients’. It would give patients access to ‘approved’ medical literature ‘to enable a deeper understanding of conditions and treatment options’, the DoH said.

This will include detailed guides on living with 20 long-term conditions to help patients manage their illness. 

The guides would include advice and support from professionals and patients.

There will also be easy-to-understand guidance on the 40 most common procedures, such as hip replacement.

There will be information on how to stay healthy with  content reflecting different patient groups such as teenagers.

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