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NHS rate-your-GP site deluged with comments

By Nigel Praities

Exclusive: An NHS website allowing patients to rate their GP practice has received a huge response, with more than 1,600 comments received within 24 hours of it going live.

NHS Choices launched the scheme on Wednesday as part of a major drive to promote patient choice and competition between practices and was soon deluged with feedback.

Although it is estimated 80% of patients have answered yes to a question asking whether they would recommend their practice to a friend, hundreds have posted responses saying they would not recommend their practice, or were unsure.

Worked out as an average across the number of practices in England, it is the equivalent of one in five practices already having been judged by their patients.

GP leaders have warned good practices could be damaged by unrepresentative and malicious comments. As well as asking whether patients would recommend the practice, they can rate practices on access and staff service, and are given three free-text fields to write about their experiences at the surgery and what could be improved.

Dr Mary Hawking, a GP in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, said the site was not ‘useful or objective'.

‘It is open to abuse if people with no connection to the practice post with the intention of damaging its practice or enhancing the reputation of a neighbour. Are GPs going to have yet another administrative task - regular checks to make sure there is nothing libellous posted?'

The site was also criticised by the founder of rival ratings site IWantGreatCare.org, which caused a storm of controversy when it launched last year.

Dr Neil Bacon said: ‘The danger is that if a partner lets the side down, the whole practice suffers. With IWantGreatCare it is done by doctor and patients can really see what is going on.'

Patients have inundated the NHS Choices website with GP ratings Patients have inundated the NHS Choices website with GP ratings Selection of comments posted so far

All comments transcribed as posted

'The nurse was very helpful and put me ease. They didn't make me feel at all embarrassed when I nearly fainted cos (sic) I don't like injections!'

'It can be a bit hard getting through on the phone - you often have to wait in a cue for a long time at peak times.'

'The hellish combination of entering what feels like a portakabin to be welcomed by a sea of leaflets and posters which peer out from the low level lighting is enough to induce a feeling of dread on each and every visit. Then one encounters the stressed receptionist.'

'We particularly like the encouragement to use alternative remedies, such as chiropractic and acupuncture if we'd like to (even though these were no more successful than conventional ones!)'

'There are lots of GPs at this practice which I like because it makes getting an appointment much easier. I am not so bothered about seeing the same GP each time.'

'I've experienced a broad spectrum of NHS primary health care. Without a doubt this practice is by far the very best, and I hear similar sentiments from neighbours and friends who are also with this practice.'

'The practice seems quite modern - you check yourself in on a screen rather than waiting to see the receptionist. I think you can even book appointments on the internet now too.'

'The only consultations I've had here in the last couple of years have been minor but unsatisfactory. I have been given inappropriate contraceptive information for my age, told minor surgery was available when it wasn't and been offered medication with no discussion of the rather revolting side effects.'

'It would also be nice if the forecourt could be tidied up - it's very depressing going into a gated estate anyway, but with foot-high weeds growing between the flagstones, it looks very rundown.'

'Appointment system needs to be improved, unable to get an appointment within a couple of weeks at times unless an emergency.'

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