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2009 GP patient survey “misleading and flawed”, says BMA

6 January 2009

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This year’s GP Patient Experience Survey is flawed and will end up misleading patients and GPs, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

There have been a number of changes to this year’s Patient Experience Survey for England and Northern Ireland. The practice-based, local patient surveys, carried out as part of the Quality and Outcomes Framework, have been discontinued.

The new postal survey is longer than in previous years and different versions will be used in each of the four nations.

The survey will include questions on whether patients find receptionists helpful, if they have the option of telephone consultations, if they feel their problem is understood and how they rate the overall care they receive.

Patients will also be asked to rate local out-of-hours care to ensure healthcare is easily accessible when they need it.

Dr Laurence Buckman (pictured), Chairman of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: “GPs want feedback from patients as it helps them improve the service they offer.

“However, we think the length and complexity of the new surveys for England and Northern Ireland may put some people off replying. We are very concerned that the changes mean we won’t be able to draw any meaningful comparison with previous years’ results, so no one will truly know if the service has improved or got worse.”

Dr Buckman added: “It is also a shame that the government has discontinued the practice-based patient survey, which was given to patients immediately after a visit to the practice. This gave very accurate patient feedback about the quality of consultation with the GP or nurse, something the new survey will fail to do.

“It can be very difficult trying to remember how you felt about a consultation which took place six months ago. It means the results of the new postal survey may not give the true picture of GP services.”


Related story: Expanded 2009 patient survey will affect practices’ pay