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GP practice rating system to start this year

Trials of a controversial new system to allow patients to publicly rate their GP practice online will begin within the next six months, Pulse has learned.

The NHS Choices website, one year old this week, already allows patients to leave feedback on hospitals, with patients routinely rating trusts on everything from cleanliness to customer service.

And the Department of Health is now keen to extended the function to GP practices, with a pilot expected to get underway by the end of the year.

But GP leaders – who have so far largely backed NHS Choices - fear the move could lead to a rash of unfair criticism and ‘selectively attract disgruntled patients'.

41195592Extension of the feedback facility follows early successes for the website, now a centrepiece of the Government's choice agenda.

More than half of GP practices have now begun uploading their profile on the site, while use among patients has more than doubled since January.

The site receives around 2.2 million visitors a month, with added factual content and a new ability to personalise the site for each user likely to prove a further draw.

Gary Ashby, programme director of NHS Choices, told Pulse most patients were already ‘mature' users of internet feedback facilities in other areas, such as the travel industry.

‘GP practices already do their own surveys and have done for a long time, asking what patients think of the services they offer,' he said. ‘This is a bigger, more public step in that kind of process.'

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned that enabling patients to post feedback ‘is not something we support'.

‘It is an unnecessary step but also one which may actually reflect selective unrepresentative views rather than the generality of opinion among patients and practices,' he said.

Some of the best performing hospitals in the country, have attracted negative comments from patients on NHS Choices.

Harrogate and District Hospital was singled out for particular praise for the quality of its services and its use of resources by the Healthcare Commission in 2006, but still attracts it's fair share of negative comments on the site

‘Coming in extremely sick it was not nice to see a hospital dusty and dirty. Clean it!!!!!' said one patient.

NHS ribbons Patient comments on top-rating hospitals

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