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Independents' Day

GP comparison websites set up across the country by Healthwatch

Exclusive New ‘Trip Advisor-style’ GP practice comparison websites have been set up in 15 areas across England by a health and social care watchdog, using patient survey data and publicising local and national news stories about practices.

Regional branches of Healthwatch - which is the Government mandated ‘consumer champion for health and social care’ - have set up their own websites that allow patients to rate their practices in a similar way to that of NHS Choices.

However, the websites go further, providing information on practices’ patient survey scores and offering information on their access.

GP leaders say that the sites could be used as ‘a stick to beat GPs’.

This comes after the CQC withdrew its ‘risk ratings’, based on GP patient survey and QOF scores, after a backlash from GPs complaining that the data it is based on did not reflect the practice’s performance.

The Government is also setting up a ‘Trip-Advisor style’ website, which was due to use the CQC’s intelligent monitoring data.

However, the Healthwatch websites go further than these, including elements such as:

  • A database of national and local news stories about practices likely to be of interest to patients, including coverage of CQC reports;
  • A Trip-Advisor review system, with patients rating them between one and five stars in six categories – cleanliness, staff attitude, waiting time, treatment explanation, quality of care and quality of food. Many of the reviews are left anonymously;
  • Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire provides patients with advice on making complaints;
  • Surveys of patients on local health services which can be undertaken through the surveymonkey website, with Healthwatch Solihull providing a link to a GP patient survey which is 44 questions long

The latest website to go live is ‘’ in Sandwell, West Midlands, launched on 20 March, which will be mostly factual information, a spokesman said. will have information on whether surgeries provide Skype consultations, male or female doctors, parking for disabled people or interpreting services. Another section details whether a practice offers on-site blood tests, what clinical services are available and what specialist knowledge GPs have.

Healthwatch Sandwell chief executive Mark Guest said: ‘If you can help people to understand what’s available at practices then this will help the GPs. Patients will have a better understanding of what services are being provided.’

But Sandwell LMC chair Dr Ray Sullivan warned: ‘I’m a bit dubious about this because these websites are very little help.  If the website can highlight areas where improvement is needed and focus our CCG on giving extra support for practices – like funding for providing blood tests – then I am fine with that.

‘But for this website they come and see patients and ask how long they have been waiting and what they think of GPs’ services. There’s plenty about that already with satisfaction surveys and QOF results. We don’t need another stick to beat GPs.’

Dr Robert Morley executive secretary of Birmingham LMC said that there was no need for websites to compare GP practices.

He added: ‘My concern is that some of the information on comparison websites is misleading or that it will have no value whatsoever. There are all sorts of reasons why one practice might perform differently to another – they may have completely different practice lists’

Dr Katherine Rake, chief executive of Healthwatch England said: ‘By helping people to know what services are on offer we can ensure people are going to the right place to get the care and support they need. As well as signposting, Healthwatch is constantly exploring new ways of collecting feedback from people about their experiences. Using this evidence they can identify areas of good practice and where improvement is needed, then work with GPs and surgeries to make things better.’

Healthwatch is a charity established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to protect patients through testing of products and procedure, and promote evidence-based medicine.

Healthwatch websites containing sections for comparing GP performance


Readers' comments (29)

  • Does it have meerkats?

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  • Bob Hodges

    Anyone who would use this nonsense, even in part, to 'choose' their GP practice is welcome to register elsewhere as far as I'm concerned.

    They are less likely to be the kind of patient that is able to moderate their demand for healthcare or limit their expectations to the achievable.

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  • So finally the true role of Healthwatch comes to the fore.. just another stick.

    I've noticed they have been the source of growing number of 'rent a quotes' especially on GP access issues. Interesting Money can be found for a quango but not for real health care!

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  • Fantastic.
    Healthcare is the new consumerist market.
    Driver of business and cash flow. I am not surprised by this. They will have income comparisons, GMC complaint data and CQC reporting, alongside NHS choices and Friends and Feedback and CCG/HSCIC/QOF data to keep their data addicts busy and to scrutinise every step of your practice. Wait till Virgin and the other big wigs come in to undermine your professionalism. EMIS/Vision software will also track your every move in a deal to utterly shaft General Practice.

    I hope a Clubcard/Nectar points scheme comes about soon - the more GP attendances the more points and freebies for skin products, bloating medication and 2p off your petrol will be in the post.

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  • Strange the patients get choices and we dont.Ie to close our lists when at full stretch.

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  • Anonymous | Practice Manager | 20 April 2015 9:59am

    Quite agree. How depressing. It will stop people doing GP quite quickly.

    The days will end up longer, horrible and higher paid.

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  • Healthwatch are quite a bizarre organisation. I think even they don't know what they are meant to be doing.

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  • Can we have a similar scheme to rate Members of Parliament? I know there's an existing web site - "They Work for You" - which shows interesting statistics like how they voted and how often they respond to constituents' letters (yes, some of them are down at 3% response rate) but it doesn't really allow a comparison to be made. Perhaps a Trip-Advisor like rating such as "talks complete rubbish and never followed through on any of the pre-election promises" would get some action?

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  • Can any other organisation in the country be so consistantly scrutinized? Patient survey, Friends & Family, NHS Choices, Primary Care website, Information Governance website. This year we have had an MPS Risk Assessment, Deanery Inspection and now Healthwatch and an upcoming QOF revalidation. This is without having yet gone through the CQC process. We have our Healthwatch visit soon and have been asked to list all our staff with their qualifications and what training they have had! I expect the Practice to monitored when it is receiving public money but I can longer keep up with the contant pressure to fill in forms and prove, not only that I have policies and procedures in place but that they are reviewed annually, everyone has read them and I can show they have been tested. That patients, despite glowing NHS Choice comments, testimonials and surveys, really, really do get a good service from the Practice. After 13 years as PM I have had enough!

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  • This is the softening up process to fee per visit in primary care like the Dentists. Everyone is claiming to be the patients champion so they can advise patients which is the best practices. It will be another money supermarket comparison website.... Hang on why am I saying this now I need to set that up first!!

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