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Patients to review GPs on NHS website

Patients will be given the chance to rate their GP and pass comments on their performance via the NHS Choices website.

Announcing the move, health minister Ben Bradshaw said it would force doctors to improve the quality of service they offered and to be more responsive to patients.

He told The Guardian that existing performance measures, such as QOF scores, were ‘more like the results of an east European election under the Soviet regime'.

‘Nearly all get 96%, 97% or 98%. That doesn't really give people an idea of whether the practice is better or worse than others in the area.

‘I want people to be able to read comments. It may be that people think the GP is fantastic and they can always get an appointment within 48 hours. Or they may have terrible experiences and think the receptionist is really rude.'

Bradshaw said the content would be moderated to exclude comments that could identify an individual GP or staff member and anonymous posts would not be allowed. However, strongly positive or negative views would not be censored.

'I would never think of going on holiday without cross-referencing at least two guide books and using Trip Adviser," he said. 'We need to do something similar for the modern generation in healthcare.

'I can already learn a lot from the comments of people, both positive and negative, about a type of treatment or a hospital. We need to extend the service to cover GPs.'

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chair, told the Guardian the move ‘has everything to do with consumerism and it has not been thought through well.'

‘A website on which people can slander or praise irresponsibly is the wrong approach. For example, if I don't give antibiotics for a viral infection because I don't think it is appropriate, the word will get out that I am a tough git. But making them happy is not what I am there for. I am there to make them healthy.'

Buckman said there would be a temptation for doctors to game the system. 'If you want to survive as a GP, you will encourage patients to vote for you. It will be rather like Strictly Come Dancing.'

People have been allowed to post comments about hospitals on the NHS Choices website since April.

Ben Bradshaw: wants patients' reviews of GPs to drive up performance Ben Bradshaw: wants patients' reviews of GPs to drive up performance

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