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New comparison website ranks GP practices on diabetes care

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Government public health officials have launched a new website that allows patients to look up how well their GP practice compares with others on measures of diabetes and hypertension care.

Public Health England (PHE) used the launch of the test website, Healthier Lives, to highlight variation in the control of risk factors in people with diabetes, such as blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol, and how many people with hypertension are being diagnosed.

The interactive website, or ‘heat map’, allows users to compare information on quality of care for diabetes and hypertension and their complications by GP practice as well as by CCG and local authority, compared with the average for England.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘This data will help doctors and nurses see at a glance where the problem areas are so improvements can be targeted. This will not only benefit patients but also help to save valuable NHS funds.’

The GPC said the website was broadly acceptable, as unlike practice-level data published on NHS Choices, it also includes demographic information such as age, ethnicity and deprivation.

However Dr Andrew Green, chair of the GPC’s clinical and prescribing subcommitte, said it could go further to show practices with a high proportion of students or homeless people to ensure comparisons were not ‘misleading’.

Dr Green said: ‘This data has been available for some time and most GPs are relaxed about its availability, accepting that patients have a right to see such information about their practices. It is important always to remember that the characteristics of the practice’s population can have a great effect on achievement levels, and so the inclusion of deprivation statistics alongside achievement is to be welcomed.

‘There will always be some practices, perhaps small ones, or ones with atypical populations such as students or the homeless, where these comparisons are misleading, for these practices to be identified on the website would be helpful. However, on the whole I am happy with this work by PHE.’

Dr John Grenville, secretary of Derbyshire LMC, questioned the number of different tools being developed to compare practice-level data and how accurately they reflect practices’ comparative performance.

Dr Grenville said: ‘While I don’t have a real problem with it, I do want to know it reflects accurately what is going on now rather than being a historic shapshot. I suppose the idea is to get practices to look at it and see if there are any areas in which they are outliers.

‘But everybody is trying to do this, producing their own different dashboard. NHS England’s got one, most CCGs are trying to develop one, PHE have now got one. I think there has been a lot of work going on that has overlapped and there are so many tools out their now that people who are looking to compare practices for whatever reason, be they  researchers, professionals or patients, will have a plethora  of things to look at and if they are different  - and there are various reasons why they may differ depending on the quality of the data put into them – how will people know which ones to believe?’


Readers' comments (8)

  • its strange how there are practices who i would consider really poor who seem to be able to manage incredibly good rates in the various measured parameters.

    Doesn't quite work for reliability

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  • I can explain the data!!....
    In areas of deprivation where Diabetics chain smoke, never take exercise, eat crap and refuse to attend Diabetes clinics, the outcomes will be worse than in areas where Banker's wives eat lentils, do yoga and have personal trainer types.
    I work in an area of deprivation which must mean that I am either a crap doctor (or too stupid to move practices or financially too enmeshed to leave).

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  • actually not that simple

    there are some in the area I cover that have really good results despite being from deprived areas. However they are not practices where I've ever felt there was great medical care. typically single handers in an inner city ( obviously many may be very good).

    I do wonder if the data is being a little manipulated!

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  • Manipulated? More likely just plain wrong as all other NHS data.

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  • The healthier lives website has completely wrong data for diabetes for our practice. No correlation at all to our QOF % scores for any of the last 5 yrs. How can we contest this?

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  • I am afraid that their data bases, like so many of the tools being used to assess General Practice (including the CQCs Primary Care Tool) are just plain innaccurate as they do not correctly adjust for practice population/ demogaphics. We have learned to distrust and question every piece of data coming out from NHSE, CQC or any of these public bodies. We go to our Clinical Effectiveness Group when we want proper data and we challenge the external bodies whenever we can and in whatever data needs correcting. One of themost important things you can do in your CCG area is make sure someone is collecting reliable and useful information/ data- this goes for workload as well as prevalence and practice demographics.

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  • Actually, having actually looked at the website, this comes from Public health England so the variations being referred to above may be for anumber of different reasons.
    I know that the data supplied for this exercise does come via our CEG so for Tower Hamlets anyway, it should be accurate but I am not sure of the data sources for other areas. My comments about the Primary Care tool however do still stand! and next time I had better look things up properly before I comment on them. Apologies.

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  • The data come from practice systems and is extracted as per the National Diabetes Audit.

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