NEWS30 June 2009

Doctors’ union calls for patient survey to be scrapped

UK

UK— The British Medical Association (BMA) is calling on the government to scrap its national patient survey, warning that local doctors stand to lose millions in funding “unfairly” based on the results.

Around 2.1m people took part in the £8m study, conducted by Ipsos Mori, which found nine in ten patients were satisfied with the care they received at their surgery, 84% could get an appointment within 48 hours, and 76% were able to book an advanced appointment.

However, the BMA claims the positive headline figures “hide a gross unfairness”. Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the association’s GP committee, said: “Thousands of surgeries are losing funding based on the answers of a tiny proportion of their practice’s population. In some cases the answers of fewer than a couple of dozen patients will have led to a practice losing thousands of pounds in resources.”

The BMA said it was aware of one practice with a list size of 13,000 where “just 41 patients” answered the question about advanced access.

“Thirty three said they were happy with the practice’s access meaning the practice satisfaction rate was 80%,” the BMA said. “If just four more patients had answered positively the practice would have got top marks. Because this survey is now part of the Quality and Outcomes Framework the practice has lost over £3,000.”

However, Health Minister Mike O’Brien said the feedback gathered by the survey was “essential in making sure the NHS is meeting the needs of patients”.

“‘The GP Patient Survey is one of the most valuable tools we have for measuring what patients think of their GP practice,” said O’Brien. “I congratulate the vast majority of surgeries who are performing well, but its clear some surgeries now need to look at these results and identify the areas where patients are still dissatisfied.”

@RESEARCH LIVE

1 Comment

11 years ago

The situation is worse than described. Statistical theory (based on assumption of a strictly random sample of patients) says that, on a sample of 41 people with 80% satisfied, there is a 1 in 20 chance that, had all qualifying patients been interviewed, the actual satisfaction rating could have been above the 90% rating. Moreover, if there were other practices with 41 respondents scoring 90% satisfaction there is a 1 in 20 chance that, had all qualifying patients been interviewed, the actual satisfaction rating could have been less than 81%, or to put it another way, the probability is that 1 in 20 of all such practices will have ratings of less than 81% when the sample surveys shows 90%. It is very unfair to base funding on the findings of such surveys. They may be used as a guide to performance and a pointer to issues that practices should address. They should not be taken as rigid and reliable measures that reflect actual performance.

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