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Hewitt: DoH right on patient survey

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has defended the Department of Health's decision to quiz patients for their views on surgery opening hours.

GPs have hit out at the questions in the national patient experience survey for raising patient expectations about services that GPs are not paid to provide.

The survey affects how much GPs are paid through the access directed enhanced service.

In response to Commons questions from Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, Mrs Hewitt said it was right to ask patients' views and to 'adjust payment to GPs accordingly'.

Mrs Hewitt said: 'The result of the new contract is that GPs are providing better services for patients according to the QOF, and doing much more work on prevention and long-term care.

'They are also receiving big increases in payments. I think it is right for us to ask patients for their views on their local practices.'

Mr Lansley said it was the Government's own contract that had led to the closure of practices on Saturday mornings.

He added that patients had a 'much less satisfactory' out-of-hours service than they had before GPs were allowed to opt out.

Mrs Hewitt claimed quality had gone up and referred to a recent study by the US-based Commonwealth Fund showing that primary care services in England were better than almost any other advanced country.

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