Patients to score their GP surgery out of 10
Data published for the first time will help patients score their GP surgery out of 10 as details of more than 8,000 practices in England go online.
The government says that patients' responses will help patients to choose which surgery to register and drive up standards within the profession. People will be asked how convenient was it to get an appointment, how long was spent waiting on reception, what were the opening hours and how good were clinical staff at explaining medical issues.
Health minister Lord Howe said: "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."
The new data on patient experience will be available to patients on the NHS Choices website, which allows patients to make quick and direct comparisons between different GP practices in their area and choose the right GP for their needs.
The scores out of 10 has been welcomed by a patients group. Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patient's Association said: "Our Helpline is seeing a trend of increasing complaints about GPs, covering a number of areas, including difficulties obtaining an appointment, complaints about the behaviour of the reception staff and other factors that affect their overall experience. These changes will not resolve these issues overnight, but providing clear and easily comparable data is certainly a step forward."
However, the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association both criticised the 10-point scale saying it is as a blunt tool that will do little to help patients make informed decisions.
As well as the patient experience measure, new data and an analytical tool will be published on the NHS Information Centre website to support GPs and the NHS to make improvements. This includes data on how many patients from each GP surgery didn't attend their first outpatient appointment at hospital, and delivery of pneumonia vaccinations for at risk patients like those over 65 or who have long term chronic conditions.