Patients to rate doctors on service

PATIENTS are to be given the power to rate the service provided by their doctor under new plans announced by the prime minister.

David Cameron said a new “friends and family” test would be introduced in every hospital in England from April with a view to later extending it to GP practices and community hospitals.

Under the test, patients and staff would be asked whether they would recommend the service to a friend or relative, in a bid to expose unacceptable standards of care. Mr Cameron said it should be applied to all NHS services.

The test is part of a broad range of measures aimed at raising standards of patient care. More support is to be offered to nurses, healthcare assistants and wider NHS staff including better training and career development opportunities.

Mr Cameron said: “I want every hospital to give every patient the best possible care. And I want to see patients given a real voice in deciding whether that care is good enough or not. So from April, we will introduce a friends and family test and patient led inspections across all hospitals.”

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada gave the announcement a cautious welcome. She told OnMedica: “GPs rightly need feedback - and already patients are encouraged to do this through means such as NHS Choices. However, we must be careful not to assume that visiting your GP can be judged in the same way as, for example, visiting a restaurant.

“As in all walks of life users are much more likely to leave a comment if they have a complaint rather than to report a positive experience and we are concerned that schemes such as the 'friends and family' test proposed by the prime minister could lead to skewed findings.

“Whilst in principle feedback services can be a useful way of reaching a decision, people need to be very careful about how they interpret the data.”