By Nigel Praities
GPs and some private companies have been given access from today to national and local league tables comparing practices against more than 200 metrics - but the Department of Health has dropped plans to publish them to patients.
The NHS Comparators website allows all GPs to compare their performance on parameters such as outpatient referrals, prescribing and patient satisfaction. The comparison tool had previously only been accessible via a secure server, but it is now available to all GPs and anyone else – such as private companies - who have an ‘NHS sponsor'.
The Department of Health had announced in November that they planned to open the whole website to the public, but a spokesperson from the NHS Information Centre said this idea had been rejected as not practical.
Individual practices can analyse their performance in league tables of local practices, other practices in the UK with a similar practice demographic or nationally.
Private companies working on behalf of NHS organisations can ask for access to the data, but only for a fixed period.
Dr Ian Greaves, a Staffordshire GP, used the tool to identify that his practice had more asthma patients admitted to hospital compared with national figures.
‘The NHS Comparators site enabled us to map and plan how we could change from a hospital to a community-based service,' he said.
Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre said GPs would be at a disadvantage if they did not use tool such as NHS Comparators.
‘They are in a knowledge vacuum if they do not know what their peers are doing and how they compare,' he said.NHS Comparators launched for GPs GPs can now compare their performance on 200 metrics online