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GPs 'should write to ratings website to get details removed'

By Steve Nowottny

GPs are being advised by LMC leaders to write now to controversial new doctor ratings website www.iwantgreatcare.org to demand their details are removed.

Lawyers have warned LMCs that an immediate, pre-emptive complaint is likely to be the most effective strategy to reduce the risk of defamation.

The advice from LMCs marks a hardening of stance from the BMA leadership, which up until now has been reluctant to get involved with the furore over the site.

Gloucestershire LMC advised concerned GPs to send a formal complaint to www.iwantgreatcare.org, requesting immediate removal of their details from the site, and has circulated a draft letter.

The LMC said it had been advised by libel lawyers Carter-Ruck that ‘doctors should write to the site now to request that their information be removed. This would strengthen their position in the event of defamation'.

The warning comes as the Information Commissioner's Office confirmed it had already received a number of formal complaints about the site, which lists every doctor in the country and does not allow GPs to remove themselves.

Dr Phillip Fielding, vice-chair of Gloucestershire LMC, said: ‘The great concern is you can put anything on it yourself - or anyone with a vendetta could.

‘To me it seems like the most crazed extension of what the Government is trying to do which is to categorize us, number us and qualify us. It's an interesting social experiment having yourself graded by your patients.'

The www.iwantgreatcare.org website has already attracted massive controversy among doctors since its launch last month – and according to a new survey, the vast majority are overwhelmingly opposed.

A poll of more than 300 GPs and hospital doctors found the site has excellent brand awareness, with 99.1% of respondents saying they had heard of the site.

But respondents also highlighted massive concern about the site, which allows patients to post anonymous reviews, with 85.5% of respondents saying it made them feel ‘most uneasy'.

‘An internet forum is not the place for doctor-bashing,' said one GP. ‘If a patient of mine has an issue with their care I'd rather they came to me.'

A spokesperson for www.iwantgreatcare.org said: ‘Over 95% of feedback from patients has been highly positive and many hundreds of doctors have been delighted to receive glowing tributes from their patients.'

Mounting concern over rate-your-GP website

- 85.5% said the site makes them feel ‘most uneasy'

- 89.7% said they are ‘very unhappy' that the public can make anonymous comments

- 98% said they did not feel the site would help patients make informed choices about their doctor.

(SOURCE: Internet survey of more than 300 doctors)

Dr Neil Bacon

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