Exclusive CCGs are planning ‘Tripadvisor-style’ websites to give star ratings to practices on areas such as access, cleanliness and treating patients with care and compassion, Pulse can reveal.
The founder of the iWantGreatCare.org website, which rates individual doctors and services, said it is being contracted by CCGs and CSUs to develop plans, with NHS Cumbria set to launch its version already in September.
Pulse can also reveal that the Department of Health is in the early stages of planning a new national website to benchmark GP practices against one another, although the details of this are yet to be decided.
There have been suggestions for websites comparing GP practices previously, including from former health secretary Andrew Lansley, but the site being set up in Cumbria is the first time a CCG has implemented it and it is far more wide-ranging than NHS Choices.
The website will allow patients to measure all health services throughout Cumbria – including its 82 GP practices – out of five stars.
It will measure areas such as access, cleanliness, being treated with care and compassion, being involved in decision making as well as the nationwide ‘Friends and Family Test’ to generate an overall rating out of five, with which patients can compare services.
But it is currently being held up by resistance from member practices, NHS Cumbria CCG patient engagement lead Jon Rush told Pulse
He said: ‘This is described by the iWantGreatCare team as a bit of a Tripadvisor for healthcare so that patients can rate them based on stars.
‘The GPs are on the database and one of the reasons we haven’t launched it yet is the process at the moment is we are working towards explaining and outlining to GP practices to get them signed up out of the 82, so that’s quite a lot of work around.’
Mr Rush added that the CCG is hoping that if a practice is consistently rated poorly in one area it would move to improve on the metric.
Dr Neil Bacon, founder of iWantGreatCare.org, said they are discussing rolling this out across different regions.
He told Pulse: ‘We are discussing with charities, with trusts, with CCGs. Everybody is realising that they have to collect feedback from patients and they have to share it transparently.’
However, Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, warned that these sites ‘misrepresent the reality’ of a practice.
He said: ‘Practices welcome constructive feedback from patients but these types of simplistic sites often misrepresent the reality of what a practice is like and therefore mislead rather than inform patients. Many practices have grave concerns following their experience of sites like NHS Choices where rating judgements can be based on as little as one disgruntled patient.’
‘Neither do such sites reflect the context of the practice or the demographics of the population served. General practice is a complex system and information about the quality of care provided needs to be far more sophisticated to be reliable or useful to patients.’
It comes as Pulse has learnt that the DH is working up plans for a new website – which will be separate to the existing NHS Choices website – to compare GP practices against one another to drive up standards.
As reported by the Daily Mail on the weekend, the DH version may include a ‘traffic lights’ system where practices whose elderly patients were more frequently admitted to hospital as emergencies would get a ‘red’ rating.
Dr Bacon said that he is in discussions with the DH about the website.
He said: ‘I’ve had various meetings [with the Government] and I know the direction, the strategy, the approach. I wouldn’t say I’ve got fine details but the concept of transparency and giving patients more choice and making sure that the best GPs are seen to be the best is something that I am quite close to.’
However, he added: ‘The DH, to be honest, are sort of coming to the party late. More of my meetings are with CCGs and CSUs rather than the DH.’
‘The best CCGs are way ahead of the Department of Health on this.’
The DH confirmed to Pulse that they were considering developing a website that would compare practices.
The plans come as all GP practices will already have to publish Ofsted-style CQC ratings in their waiting rooms as a contractual requirement, under the new CQC inspection regime, and as NHS England’s London area team was planning to tie PMS contractual payments to patient health outcomes including A&E attendances.
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