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Government poised to scrap GP patient survey

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government looks set to scrap the GP patient survey in its current form after health secretary Andrew Lansley said it 'missed the point' and should be replaced with a new system placing greater emphasis on outcomes.

In his first major speech since taking up his new role, Mr Lansley said that the patient survey is 'too much like asking patients whether they were grateful' and argued that ‘access is not as important as outcomes'.

The speech, to patients and clinicians at the Bromley-by-Bow health centre in East London, paves the way for the controversial survey, which has cost GPs millions despite high overall satisfaction scores, to be scrapped in its current form.

It is the first time that the Conservatives have indicated that the survey is to go, although their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats have called for it to be axed because practices were losing millions on the word of a fraction of patients.

Mr Lansley said patients should be required to answer ‘more immediate, relevant questions', highlighting the example being set by some hospitals.

He said: ‘Patient access surveys in general practice miss the point of whether patients are doing well and if they have good outcomes, if they required treatment or advice. Access is not as important as outcomes.'

‘I have seen hospitals asking more immediate questions, with more relevant and particular questions, like ‘when you pressed the call button, was the response what you expected, better than you expected or worse than expected.'

Mr Lansley said he wanted to make comparable data more readily available to patients that embraces ‘all that goes to make up quality', including access, but also quality of clinical care.

The health secretary did not outline any further detail of the Government's plans to rewrite the GP contract to make GPs responsible for commissioning.

But, as expected, he did announce plans to radically reshape Payment by Results, by refusing to pay hospitals double if patients are readmitted as an emergency within 30 days of being discharged, to reduce unnecessary bouncebacks of referrals to GPs.

The Government looks set to scrap the GP patient survey in its current form The Government looks set to scrap the GP patient survey in its current form