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Practices to be ranked against one another on NHS Choices

GP practices will see their performance ranked on the NHS Choices website through a new data comparison tool, under plans unveiled by the Department of Health.

The MyNHS tool – still in test phase – currently allows patients and health bosses to rank hospitals, social care providers and public health services on issues such as CQC ratings, mortality rates and waiting times using data available from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The Department of Health said further data on clinicians, practices and CCGs will be added ‘at a later date’, although a spokesperson told Pulse individual GP performance data would not be included.

But GP leaders warned that ‘blunt performance tools’ will not be helpful to patients.

The site has been developed by the DH in conjunction with NHS England, Public Health England, the CQC and HSCIC.

A DH statement said: ‘The site will be developed and improved over time by gathering feedback from users… More data from CCGs, GP practices, clinicians and mental health trusts will be added at a later date.

‘Clinicians, managers, patient groups and campaigners will be able to use the data to highlight the best performing areas and improve standards through competition and transparency.’

The announcement comes after Pulse revealed last month the DH had postponed its plans to give GP practices ‘traffic light’ ratings for their performance after a backlash from GP leaders.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt had previously told national media he wanted the NHS to publish a ‘red flag’ rating system to GPs who perform poorly on early cancer referral.

Mr Hunt said: ‘MyNHS is a powerful new tool that will give professionals across the healthcare system the opportunity to learn from each other and improve their services.

‘This is the next step of the journey we are taking to create the most open and transparent healthcare system in the world.’

Dr Grant Ingrams, deputy chair of the GPC’s IT subcommittee and a GP in Coventry, said publishing performance data would not help the public choose a GP practice, however.

Dr Ingrams said: ‘We shouldn’t be recommending patients decide whether they go to a particular practice purely based on, for example, whether they had to wait an extra day to see a GP – when the other practice may provide much better holistic care, which is the sort of thing that doesn’t get picked up on blunt performance tools.’

He  added: ‘Unfortunately the indicators we have are only useful for benchmarking – to say to practices, this is where you are, why is this, and then to work out if that is because you are poorly performing, or because of a different population, insufficient resources, not having the right premises and so on. But this information will not tell patients whether it is a good practice or not.’

A DH spokesperson told Pulse: ‘More information, including GP practice level data will be added to MyNHS at a later date.’