More than 8,000 GP Practices will be involved in a new project in England. The new points scoring system will allow patients to assess how good their GP Practices are. The data will be published online and will be used to help GP’s and the NHS make improvements.
GP Practices will be rated on four points: opening hours, ease of getting an appointment, length of time spent waiting in reception and whether or not doctors listen.
The scores will be calculated using data from the NHS’s GP Patient Survey, which collects information from about a million people a year who are chosen randomly. The overall rating for each surgery will then be published on the NHS Choices website.
Lord Howe, the Health Minister, said the government wanted “to make it easier for patients to find the best NHS care for them”. “As we set out in our Information Strategy, we want to make it easier for patients to find the best NHS care for them. Giving patients more information about their local NHS is a big part of our commitment to transparency and using data to drive improvements.
“Opening up this data is another step forward in giving people more choice. Patients will now be able to see exactly what the experience of being a patient at each GP surgery is really like. This data will not only help patients choose the right GP surgery for them but will also give GP surgeries and the NHS new information they can use to make fresh, innovative improvements.”
However, the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association have both criticised the point scoring system.
Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Clarity and transparency are important and we have been involved with this project in order to give patients the clearest picture of the standard of services available from their local surgery.
“We do, however, have concerns regarding how the data could be used. We would not advise rating GP surgeries out of 10, as is being suggested by the Department of Health today, because a lot of what our patients tell us they value about general practice – trust, caring, kindness, and willingness to listen – is immeasurable.”
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, welcomed the new ratings. She said: “They will result in more information being available for patients when they are making a choice about which GP to register with. They will also enable patients to compare the performance of their own GP with others.”
“These changes will not resolve these issues overnight, but providing clear and easily comparable data is certainly a step forward.”