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Gold, incentives and meh

Patients to mark GPs out of five

By Steve Nowottny

Patients will be asked to rate their GP practices out of five, effectively enabling the creation of league tables, under a major drive by the NHS to create more competition.

The NHS Choices site will gather feedback on areas such as access and customer service and will sort practices by their average feedback ratings, Pulse can reveal.

Plans to pilot the use of the website to gather feedback on a small number of practices before a national launch, first revealed by Pulse in June, have now been dropped, with the Department of Health intent on allowing all patients to rate practices across the country from the summer.

NHS Choices bosses have also stepped up the extent of their plans by deciding to allow surgeries to be ranked by patient feedback scores.

Users of the site will be able to type in their postcode and sort nearby practices by distance, QOF data, patient survey data or feedback scores.

When leaving comments, patients will be asked to score practices out of five on a number of criteria, likely to focus on aspects of access and customer service.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw praised the plans when he trailed them last month, claiming they would give patients more information to choose between practices.

‘I would never think of going on holiday without cross-referencing at least two guide books and using Tripadvisor,' he said.

But many GPs are strongly opposed, with GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman warning patients could ‘slander or praise irresponsibly'.

‘If I don't give antibiotics for a viral infection because I don't think it's appropriate, the word will get out that I'm a tough git,' he said. ‘But making them happy is not what I'm here for. I am there to make them healthy.'

Patients will mark GPs out of five, effectively enabling league tables

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