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Patients to rate practices online

GPs face seeing their practices rated online by patients just as restaurants and pubs are now, under plans for an NHS website to encourage patient choice.

Patients will soon be able to post comments about their GP consultation online for others to see when considering where to register, writes Lilian Anekwe.

The new NHS Choices website, launched this week, currently allows patients to find information on the performance of a local hospital, rate their experiences and post comments about their treatment. But at a press briefing at the Department of Health earlier this week, it was made clear the software will soon be adapted for general practice.

Andy Burnham, health minister for delivery and reform, stressed the website would not be used as a naming and shaming exercise, but would highlight where services were below par. 'There is a bit of a journey to go with this, but whatever happens any rating system will be developed with GPs. We need to shine a light on where services are not what they should be, but it won't go straight to general practice. That conversation with GPs has not started yet.'

Beverley Bryant, the department's head of information services, said: 'If GPs want the service we will provide it. But in the long term if GPs oppose it, it will be hard for them to refuse it.'

Comments are moderated to ensure doctors' names are not mentioned, but where they work will be.

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