The NHS Choices website allows you to find out how your GP surgery scores before you register
Going out for dinner? Chances are you’ll check out possible restaurants online and do the same kind of research when planning a holiday. Now, if you’re looking for a new GP who understands your medical needs, you should head to the NHS Choices website to find out how your GP surgery scores before you register. Not only will it give you an overall score, you can assess whether you’ll get the care you need and even how soon you’re likely to be seen once you arrive at the surgery. Doctor ratings and reviews have been used by patients in other countries, such as the US and Canada for years, but here in the UK this is the first time such information has been gathered and made available to the public. Covering more than 8,000 GP practices in England, and using one million responses from randomly selected patients, the data is intended to help patients choose which surgery to register with, as well as to help improve standards. The data will allow you to check how easy it is to get an appointment at the surgery, how long you might have to wait to be seen once you’ve arrived, and whether the staff are attentive or good listeners.
Other information, such as how many patients from each surgery received recommended vaccinations, for example, is also included in the data. Each GP surgery is given a score out of 10, based on the various factors. Most important perhaps, the data also allows patients to seek out doctors who are likely to be a better fit for them – some practices, for example, may have had a lot of experience treating patients with diabetes or heart disease.
Unlike in countries where private healthcare is the norm, patients in the UK aren’t used to changing GPs or getting second opinions on diagnoses. But with this new data that’s likely to change. Of course, as with any review system, it doesn’t always reveal the whole picture. Within different geographical locations each surgery will have different challenges – some with more patients than others, for example. Available resources and government cuts will also affect the performance of a surgery – something the ratings system doesn’t take into account.
If you are considering changing your GP, the NHS Choices website also offers advice on what to look for when choosing. Factors to consider include ease of access, parking restrictions, catchment areas, opening times, whether you’d prefer a male or female doctor or someone with a particular age or cultural background.
Choosing a GP