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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Disputes could hold up revalidation

Practices that set up patient groups to improve communications are rated more highly in patient surveys for the quality framework.

Dr Michael Greco, who leads the organisation that handles the IPQ survey ­ one of two used by GPs ­ said

his research had found practices with consultative patient groups were able to lift their rating by an average of 3 to 4 per cent.

Of those with patient groups, small and medium-sized practices lifted their scores by far more than larger surgeries.

Dr Greco, executive director of the Client-Focused Evaluations Programme at the University of Exeter, said it was easier for smaller practices to react to patient criticisms than larger ones.

Key areas for improvement highlighted by patients included privacy in waiting rooms and letting people know how long they have to wait to see the GP.

Dr Greco said: 'Maybe it suggests there should be more quality points available for acting on feedback. It is tangible evidence patient groups can make a difference to supporting practices making changes.'

The randomised controlled trial involved 30 practices, all of whom had done the IPQ the previous year. Fifteen were then helped to set up critical friends groups.

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