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Outcry as biased survey forces patients to rate their GP as ‘poor’

By Steve Nowottny

PCT bosses have been forced to pull a patient survey about GP services – after it emerged patients were only allowed to answer the survey if they said they had a ‘poor' opinion of their GP.

NHS Coventry asked patients to fill in the online survey as part of a £14,000 public and patient involvement exercise, intended to shape the future of local GP services.

Part of the survey, which the PCT said would be used ‘to work with GPs towards carrying forward any improvements people tell us they would like to see', asked patients what their opinion of their GP was, with four options ranging from ‘poor' to ‘excellent'.

But two subsequent questions asked patients to provide details about why they had rated their GP as ‘poor' – and refused to let them complete the survey unless they gave a reason.

Dr Grant Ingrams, secretary of GPC West Midlands and a GP in Coventry, said: ‘Only allowing a patient to record their opinion if they have a ‘poor' opinion of their GP is particularly crass.'

‘I greatly value the opinions of my patients, and was collecting these before PCTs existed. I support PCTs surveying their residents, but biased surveys which lead patients towards certain answers are inappropriate, a waste of money and do not represent true patient participation.'

Simon Dudman, head of communications and engagement at NHS Coventry, said: ‘The online version of our primary care survey was removed from our website within hours of going live in response to local GP feedback that the design logic of the survey meant respondents had to provide an answer to a question which should have only been asked of people who provided a negative rating for an earlier question.'

'This was a simple technical error not spotted in our testing and any data collected prior to this being brought to our attention has now been disregarded.'

An amended version of the survey is expected to be put back online next week.

The online patient survey insisted patients rate their GP as 'poor' The online patient survey insisted patients rate their GP as 'poor'

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