Intended for healthcare professionals


Patient feedback for quality improvement in general practice

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 18 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i913
  1. Angela Coulter, senior research scientist
  1. Health Services Research Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. angela.coulter{at}

A mixed bag of poorly evaluated methods leaves patients frustrated, and doctors little wiser

The best way to ensure that services are responsive to those they aim to serve is to elicit feedback on people’s experiences and encourage providers to deal with any problems thus identified. This has been axiomatic in health policy for many years, but have we got the balance right in primary care? The linked article by Gillam and Newbould suggests not, pointing to doubts about the effectiveness of patient involvement in, and feedback to, general practices, despite—or perhaps because of—the plethora of data sources at their disposal.1 This feedback is obtained at some considerable cost in terms of staff time and incentive payments for practices, so we need to know if it is cost effective.

Since April 2015 it has been a contractual requirement for all general practices in England to establish and maintain a patient participation group and to make reasonable efforts …

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