Patient Opinion, the independent website founded by a Sheffield GP for recording good and bad comments on hospital care, goes nationwide across England this week.

Set up in 2005, the website has been piloted over the last 20 months, mainly in selected areas, and enables patients to share the story of their care and rate the quality of service that they have received.

Comments cover the whole gamut of opinion from serious concerns about clinical practice and the quality of care to unqualified praise for excellent services.

“Patients throughout England are playing an active role in driving change in the NHS” said Dr Paul Hodgkin, Patient Opinion founder and chief executive.

He continued: “Patient Opinion directs patient feedback straight to the hospital managers who need to see it, for subscribing hospitals. This independent feedback to the NHS motivates staff by providing the recognition they deserve and also helps clinicians and managers to improve services.”

Dr Hodgkin added: “Patient Opinion was set up to enable patients to share their experiences of healthcare and by doing so help other patients. The opinion of patients is key to the success of the NHS – to ensure that hospitals are made accountable for the level of service they offer.

“We want all opinions – good and bad – so that we can acknowledge good care and at the same time encourage hospitals and trusts to acknowledge issues and work to rectify them.”

Patient Opinion says that all feedback is previewed prior to publication and where necessary, moderated to ensure legality. Feedback includes many positive opinions as well as negative ones and over 95% of submissions are published. Postcode analysis suggests that responses come from across society.

The site has been set up as a not-for-profit social enterprise and is funded by subscriptions from healthcare bodies such as NHS trusts, strategic health authorities and the NHS regulator, the Healthcare Commission, which use the anonymised data to monitor and improve services.

A spokesperson said the service covers England only at present though it is hoped Patient Opinion will start in Northern Ireland later this year and later in Scotland and Wales.