One of the UK's biggest HIV charities is encouraging patients to anonymously rate named GPs online in a bid to signpost ‘HIV friendly' practices and help patients avoid ‘discrimination', after signing a landmark deal with the GP ratings site iWantGreatCare.
The collaboration with the Terrence Higgins Trust, which provides services to over 50,000 people a year, is the first in a series of agreements iWantGreatCare hopes to sign with charities, as it looks to expand the reach of its site.
The deal, which does not have any payment attached to it, will see the Terrence Higgins Trust promote iWantGreatCare to its users and direct patients to rate and review their GP via a specially created microsite.
iWantGreatCare, which goes further than other ratings sites such as NHS Choices in that it allows patients to anonymously comment on individual GPs rather than just practices, has proved controversial since its launch in 2008.
It declined this week to reveal how many GPs have now been rated on the site due to ‘commercial reasons and the contracts we have with our clients', but said since the site's launch there had been an average increase in reviews of 135% every six months.
Garry Brough, membership officer for Terrence Higgins Trust, told Pulse patients with HIV were often subject to discrimination and breaches of confidentiality in primary care, and said the new deal would allow patients to seek out ‘HIV friendly' practices.
‘All GPs should have a good awareness and shouldn't discriminate, but unfortunately that isn't the case,' he said.
‘Our collaboration with iWantGreatCare will finally allow people with HIV to find and recommend local services which are sensitive to their needs, and signposthealthcare professionals who are already providing high-quality support.'
He added: ‘The fact that patients will leave a practice to go somewhere where they can get better care is going to be one of those things that will incentivise GPs. Primary care and dentists need to look at how they engaged, around areas that are borderline discrimination at this point.'
iWantGreatCare has previously attracted fierce criticism and even threats of legal action from GPs, with many furious at being publicly identified on the site. While many of the comments from patients are positive, others are critical. One Manchester GP, who is named on the site, is described as ‘generally off-hand', while a patient writes of a London GP, also named: ‘I do not feel I can trust him.'
But founder and chief executive Dr Neil Bacon said GPs were increasingly accepting online rating, and said iWantGreatCare hoped to sign further deals with other charities to promote the site.
‘It's changed so much in three years [since] when doctors thought this was an awful thing - now we have hundreds of doctors giving cards totheir patients and saying "tell me what you think",' he said.
‘The detailed information being submitted is highlighting excellent care, whist helping patients avoid services that have provided a poor experience to their peers.'
Of the deal with the Terrence Higgins Trust, he said: ‘Their words were: "Can you help us build a Trip Advisor for HIV care?"We've got a robust system that allows detailed feedback, doctors trust it, patients trust it. We're seeing an ever increasing number of users. Doctors, including GPs, are asking patients to rate and review them.'