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Patient experience scores may be included in GP ratings, says NHS England chief

Exclusive Comparative data on GP practices including access, referrals, immunisation rates, and patient experience are being considered for publication by NHS England, Pulse has learnt.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, NHS England’s deputy medical director Dr Mike Bewick said managers were looking at publishing more data from primary care, in order to give patients more comparative information about GP practices.

Currently NHS England is at the stage of looking at which data sources could be accurately compared, so a spokesperson said it had not been decided where the data will be published or whether it would take the form of a ‘Ofsted-style’ rating of GP practices.

The news comes as the CQC announced that its newly appointed chief inspector of primary care, Professor Steve Field, would be working on publishing ‘ratings’ of GP practices, as in hospitals and care homes.

It also follows an announcement that the ‘friends and family test’ will be rolled out to all GP practices by the end of next year.

Dr Bewick spoke to Pulse in the interview about NHS England’s consultation on its ideas for primary care launched earlier this month.

The major public consultation on the future of general practice asks for suggestions on how to stimulate ‘more convenient routine access to GP services’ and improve ‘the speed of contact for urgent problems’. It also asks for opinions on how to ‘strengthen accountability’ for the quality of out-of-hours care and on publishing more comparative information about GPs for patients.

Dr Bewick said that the consultation was designed to ‘mobilise thought’ on primary care and collect ideas about how general practice should change.

He said: ‘This is the most exciting thing to happen to primary care for some time. The Call to Action was there to really mobilise thought, to really get a discourse going on what we would like throughout out of hospital care.

‘There are many innovative GPs out there, there are many staff who are innovative and it is good to get their thoughts and ideas first. We haven’t got a prescription for this, an exact idea of what it should look like and we don’t. So we take this very seriously.

He confirmed that NHS England’s aim was to publish data on primary care to give patients more information about GP practices: ‘If we’ve got comparators that are successful, then yes, I think patients should know what’s delivered in their practices. It would be fair to say that that’s what we’re working on.’

He said it was likely that data on access, immunisation rates, hospital admissions referrals data would be published, as well as patient experience comparators that have yet to be developed.

Click here to watch the full interview with Dr Mike Bewick as he explains the NHS England consultation

He said: ‘We’d be looking at access data, the basic things like immunisation data, hospital admissions referrals data. These are all things known to CCGs already, practices are known to be dealing with this.’

‘There will be other ones more orientated around patient experience. They are not developed yet. Friends and Family test is but a small part of what we’re asking. Of course GPs have their own surveys already. Wouldn’t you want to know what your patients think of you? Wouldn’t that be a good idea?’

He added that upon identifying which data sources are comparable, NHS England would consult with the RCGP and the GPC over publishing the data.