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Birmingham GPs spied on with secret surveillance in patient survey drive

By Ian Quinn

Undercover patient checks, video surveillance and secret tape recordings are all being employed as part of a radical crackdown on practices to improve patient survey scores in the UK's second biggest city.

NHS Heart of Birmingham is piloting a scheme, devised by US management consultants, in which practices have had to submit to regular checks carried out by ‘mystery shoppers'.

Practices are facing regular cleanliness checks and have also been told to send receptionists on training to be more polite. Staff have also been told to wear name badges to improve their perception with the public.

It is all part of an attempt to push up patient experience scores in the PCT, which languished in the bottom quarters of last year's national results.

Charlotte Bradley, programme manager at Heart of Birmingham Teaching PCT said: ‘It is designed to improve the patient experience at all levels, from initial contact with the surgery, their visit to the surgery and the whole patient pathway. It's a positive scheme that, if shown to be successful, will be rolled out across the PCT.

But Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMCs, said he feared the scheme would be used to ‘name and shame practices'.

‘The fact that they can come up with something like this just shows what an excess of managers we have in Birmingham,' he added.

Dr Robert Morley: 'This just shows what an excess of managers we have here' Dr Robert Morley: 'This just shows what an excess of managers we have here'

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