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Johnson's pledge heaps pressure on NHS Choices

The Government's much-derided Patient Experience Survey is posing another headache for GPs and the Department of Health, over the health secretary's plans to make it available on the NHS Choices website.

The department admits it faces tough decisions about how to present information from the £11m survey , after being instructed to put the data online by Alan Johnson.

A spokesman said today it could be October at least before the survey results went up and that it was yet unclear how it should present the findings from nearly 2.3 million patients.

‘It's not just a case of putting the results up willy-nilly,' he said. ‘We need to make them as accessible to patients as possible. There's no point simple replicating what we have already published.'

Mr Johnson has given a high priority to putting information about primary care performance areas, such as GP access, online, whereas until now relatively few patients would have seen the survey results.

However, the spokesman admitted there were was a danger it could unfairly represent some practices if the uploading of details was note properly handled.

He said: 'There are issues such as considering those practices that did not take part in the survey and what about those who maybe only had one response.'

Uploading of the mammoth survey on the website, which is set to be followed by the publishing of other performance indicators about surgeries, poses a fresh logistical challenge for the recently launched NHS Choices service.

It has already attracted controversy for being riddled with errors about practice details, such as showing details of GPs who had been retired for years.

Later this year NHS Choices plans to give GPs the task of uploading their own details on the site, which it says will make them more accurate and save it from what it claims is an impossible logistical task of making sure all information is accurate.

The original announcement of the patient survey's findings was itself the subject of severe delay, attracting widespread cynicism for GPs who accused the Government of trying to spin the results.

Despite showing an overwhelmingly positive reaction from patients about access to GP surgeries, the survey has been used by Mr Johnson to justify his plan for local incentives and a shake up of the quality and outcomes framework, in a drive to get GPs to work longer hours.

The survey showed particularly black spots in the country which will be the target of PCT action teams overseen by primary care tsar Dr David Colin-Thome.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has vowed to make the national patient survey available via NHS Choices Health Secretary Alan Johnson has vowed to make the national patient survey available via NHS Choices

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