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Independents' Day

Practices posting false reviews on NHS Choices, says Field

Failing GP practices are creating false accounts and posting positive reviews on NHS Choices before their CQC inspection, according to the chief inspector of primary care.

Professor Steve Field told the audience of a keynote debate at the Best Practice conference in Birmingham on Wednesday that whistleblowers had alerted the CQC to the problem.

He added that subsequent inspections often conclude the practice ‘probably shouldn’t exist’.

Professor Field was addressing the issue of NHS Choices after announcing that the CQC would be publishing its ‘intelligent monitoring’ data on GP practices on its own website and on NHS Choices.

Pulse reported earlier this month that the intelligent monitoring will include details of GP prescribing rates, and will be used to identify which practices should be prioritised for inspection.

Professor Field said that NHS Choices was often not useful for the CQC.

He told delegates: ‘The feedback from the patients on NHS Choices is not good at the moment. We know, through whistleblowers, that some GPs have been filling in lots of things that say the practice is good, at the time when we see the practice and it probably shouldn’t exist.

‘We looked at one this morning, it wasn’t a good practice but there were great, outstanding comments, and then “this is the worst thing we’ve ever been to”. I don’t like that at all, but we need to understand that patient feedback is really important and a lot of this data is based on the patient survey, as it is at the moment.

‘There’s a very big group of practices in this region, who are starting to use an app to get real-time patient feedback. So the reality is, whatever you do there’s going to be feedback.’

When Pulse asked about the incidences of whistleblowing, Professor Field explained there was a single incident ‘six months ago’ but would not confirm the nature of any subsequent action by the CQC.

Readers' comments (19)

  • The problem has always been that a patient's perception of good care is somewhat mismatched from a healthcare professional's objective view of good care. Saying "No, that is not best for you" or "No, the local NHS will not fund that for you" usually makes for very unhappy patients, and will lead to comments such as those found on NHS Choices as "feedback".
    So you waited 30minutes to see someone. I am sorry for your delay but does that constitute poor clinical care? Separate issue in my mind.
    You felt the receptionist didn't smile enough? Again, my apology but that also does not constitute poor clinical care.
    If I was in any way inclined (or had the time!) to fraudulently post on NHS Choices about my own practice, I'd make sure it was a poor review in the hope that some of the potential customers would choose to go elsewhere as we are drowning already!

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  • Anonymous comments, should be treated with the same importance as graffiti.
    A bit like most of the comments on here perhaps?

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  • Took Early Retirement

    It's a bit like Tripadvisor, surely? Easy to publish masses of false reviews on there.

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  • I get the feeling the CQC is trying to justify it's existence at the expense of the profession.

    One hopes there will be some accountability for the damage the CQC is doing to the profession.

    It's ironic that the GMC has threatened individual doctors if they post messages that put the profession in a bad light but will do nothing against institutions that do the same


    When Pulse asked about the incidences of whistle blowing, Professor Field explained there was a single incident ‘six months ago’ but would not confirm the nature of any subsequent action by the CQC.

    This does not equate to widespread use and is sure to create a disproportionate media frenzy which the CQC is feeding.

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  • How many mistakes has the CQC made?

    What and where is the feedback on the CQC?

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  • I really don't think that the reviews on NHS choices are fair and agree that this should be suspended until we have a more accurate and fairer way of leaving feedback instead as previously said anyone can go on and make all sorts of things up, at the practice I am at I have read such total rubbish reviews that was written and if they want to be taken seriously maybe writing something that was believable would have been better.

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  • I wonder why so many public sector organizations do not put the feedback given by clients in public domain. If GP surgeries are to be punished for the feedback which anyone can give about a surgery, the same should apply to CQC as well - where they should be bold enough to publish any anonymous feedback from public about CQC too. And based on that feedback that is made available to public, the CQC should also become answerable to issues that are raised, and also if the feedback says that CQC is not fit for purpose, the CQC should also be made to close. Will the CQC be bold enough to stop keeping the feedback that they receive as secret before blaming GP surgeries

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  • CQC plan to close down general practice by peeing everyone off and causing total collapse of morale, continues unabated. Well done mr Field.

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  • if there was only one single incident then Professor Fields assertion that 'practices' were doing this is completely false

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