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GP ratings website publishes raft of new data on practices

GP practices have a raft of data about them published on their NHS Choices profile from today, with measures such as the helpfulness of receptionists and ease of telephone access included.

In a move that has been criticised as ‘meaningless' by GPC leaders, the NHS Choices website has been revamped to include much more information about individual practices.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley announced today that local maps of GP surgeries, a profile of the practice population by age and gender, the practice's experience in treating particular conditions and how frequently a choice of hospital will be offered from today.

Customer ratings from the NHS GP patients survey have also been added, with the percentages reporting satisfaction on a range of issues, including  the helpfulness of receptionists, ease of telephone access and whether the patient agreed with the doctor on management of their condition.

Mr Lansley said: ‘If you are a long term asthma sufferer you will be able to find the local GPs that are best at treating your condition.

 ‘You will be able to see how popular that surgery is and whether they focus on treating the elderly or young people.'

‘Just as the information revolution beyond the public sector hasn't been spearheaded by government, nor should it be the case within it,' he said.

In addition to this, the Government announced that raw data on 260 quality indicators in the NHS has been released on a portal on the NHS Information Centre website, where it can be freely used by private sector websites such as Dr Foster or iPhone apps like Wellnote.

Of the 260 indicators, 25 are being released for the first time at practice level, including influenza data and practice use of national IM&T systems such as Choose and Book and Electronic Prescription Service.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse the whole scheme could mislead patients.

He said: ‘What's completely absent is the local context of the practice and what value has been added by the practice. Two neighbouring practices may start with very different populations.'

‘If you bombard patients with information out of context, it becomes meaningless. The simplistic production of information may lead to patients potentially being misled by the lay press, which create unhelpful league tables.'

Dr Vautrey added that patients may draw different conclusions from the data than NHS managers. ‘It would be very interesting to ask patients if a high referring practice with costly prescribing is good. Their view is likely to be completely the opposite of the PCT's.'

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