Wednesday, June 07, 2006

GP's Surgeries: A 5-Star Service?

This BBC News article from yesterday reports a new scheme to grade GP surgeries, via assessment from doctors, nurses and patients, according to criteria such as opening times and provision of additional services. The Royal College of General Practioners feel this system will improve patient reassurance in the healthcare they are receiving.

It is based on a pre-existing scheme, which would bring General Practice more into line with hospital grading. It would be a similar 1-3 star scheme, assessed every three years, and voluntary. The scheme may come into effect next April.

With recent press regarding pay rises for GPs, some feel this kind of regulation justifies the salary increments. Personally, I feel that as a society, we often forget how lucky we are to be able to turn up ill, and to be able to receive free, outstanding quality treatment. I'm all for greater patient involvement and better regulation of services (after all, its people's lives we are dealing with), but there comes a point where we become too consumer-orientated. This is all very well in an american-style system of private healthcare, but under the NHS patients perhaps ought to make some allowances for the drawbacks of such a system.

What do others think? Would the GP grading system tempt you to think about changing doctors? Is three years too long for GPs who get 'blacklisted' to be re-evaluated?


Giskin said...

I'm getting really fed-up with the whole notion that everything can be reduced to numbers and ratings. How on earth can you even think of standardising quality of healthcare when it is so multifaceted. A GP may be perceived as brusque by one patient and efficient by another; one doctor's caring attitude may be perceived as patronising by someone else. I can't see any GP wanting to continue in the profession if they are poorly ranked. I agree that there should be standards of care, but this competitive-style ranking is reductionist and simplistic.

S said...

League-tabling GPs would have the same effect we've had where schools and hospitals were considered.

Good places will get overcrowded and 'bad' ones won't get a look-in to prove they can improve.

At the same time, a guide to what services are offered by particular GP's would be most useful when deciding on registering which practice one should register with.