The BMA’s GP committee has advised GPs not to be defensive and to respond constructively when patients place comments on the NHS Choices website.
Patients have been able to comment on GP practices since 2009, but the online rating service has always been controversial with GPs.
Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee, told EHI Primary Care that the GPC had issued fresh advice following continued concerns from practices.
He added: “We are regularly getting concerns about the site. The continuing perception is that only people with concerns and problems comment - and that is not balanced out by the much much larger number of favourable contacts people have with practices.”
Dr Vautrey said the GPC understood GPs’ concerns but wanted to encourage practices to respond appropriately - and to take the opportunity to post a reply.
The GPC’s guidance emphasises that practices will only be notified once a comment has been published and practices will then have the option to either reply to the comment or report it as unsuitable to the website moderator.
The GPC advises practices to respond constructively to negative comments to correct any misrepresentation and “also to show their professionalism under these circumstances.”
The advice adds: “As long as the reply is positive and carefully constructed rather than defensive it should help and not hinder GPs in these particular situations.”
GPs are likely to face greater scrutiny from the public under the government’s transparency agenda.
Plans to publish more data on GPs before the end of the year were announced by the government last month.
Dr Vautrey said GPs would have to accept that online ratings functionality such as that offered by NHS Choices would not go away.
He added: “Many practices don’t like NHS Choices and don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayers’ money; but in some ways it is better the devil you know and at least there is some moderation of comments.”
© 2011 EHealth Media.
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