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Will doctor rating sites improve the quality of care? No

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 17 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1033
  1. Margaret McCartney, columnist for Financial Times weekend
  1. 1 Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}

    The UK government has signalled its support for rating sites with the decision to set up its own through the NHS Choices website. Neil Bacon (doi:10.1136/bmj.b1030) believes they provide essential feedback for doctors, but Margaret McCartney is concerned that the potential harms are still unclear

    The health minister Ben Bradshaw thinks doctor rating sites are a great idea. “I wouldn’t think of going on holiday without cross referencing at least two guide books and using Trip Advisor. We need to do something similar for the modern generation in health care.”1 If we can ask the eaters of pizzas and drinkers of coffee for their ratings of the staff, why should doctors escape the judgment of their clients? And so, with a nod to patient choice, and no apparent need to consider the evidence, NHS approval of websites to rate your doctor was stamped.

    There is a wealth of information about how patient opinion is useful, even essential, when considering how services and research should be shaped and delivered. But the belief that doctor rating sites …

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