Doctors have complained to the Information Commissioner about the doctors’ rating website iwantgreatcare.org.
The site www.iwantgreatcare.org was launched last month to enable patients to post comments about individual GPs and patients.
However doctors have complained that the site is in breach of the Data Protection Act by including their names on its database and refusing to withdraw the information. Now the doctors have taken the case to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
A spokesperson for the ICO told EHI Primary Care that it had been contacted by doctors about iwantgreatcare.org.
She said: “We have received some complaints and we are looking into them at the moment.”
The website’s founder, Dr Neil Bacon, has also been sent a letter from media lawyers Carter-Ruck expressing doctors “grave concerns about the potential for inaccurate, irresponsible and defamatory allegations being published on the website.”
The letter, sent on behalf of 37 doctors, questions the effectiveness of the systems the website has put in place to prevent inaccurate information being published.
Magnus Boyd, a partner with Carter-Ruck, told EHI Primary Care that since the letter was sent and its existence publicised his clients had been inundated by doctors wanting to associate themselves with its sentiments.
He added: “The letter is really a warning shot across the bows. The real problem here is that the site has presumably been advised that it should not have a moderator as there is then a defence of ‘innocent defamation’ as they can say they weren’t aware of the defamatory comment until a doctor makes them aware of it. That puts all the onus on the doctor which simply isn’t fair. A doctor cannot be expected to monitor a website seven days a week when they are working and going on holiday and so on.”
Boyd said his clients were keen supporters of patients’ rights to make genuine complaints and give feedback.
He added: “My clients are not against fair comment but accuracy matters.”
A spokesperson for iwantgreatcare.org told EHI Primary Care that doctors who felt that their details were being held against the Data Protection Act should use the ‘report this review’ link on the site. He added: "This is the most direct way to raise concerns."
Last week GP newspaper Pulse reported that a hospital doctor had conducted a survey of more than 300 GPs and hospital doctors about the website. It found that 99.1% of doctors were aware of the site but 89.7% said they were “very unhappy” that the public could make anonymous comments and 98% said they did not feel the site would help patients make informed choices about their doctor.
A spokesperson for iwantgreatcare.org told Pulse that they were delighted to see such high awareness of the site and that 95% of feedback from patients had been highly positive.