Patients will be able to rate their GP’s performance via the NHS Choices website from next summer, according to reports today.

Health minister, Ben Bradshaw says in an interview with the Guardian that he wants the site to do for healthcare what Amazon has done for the book trade.

The idea was condemned by the BMA as a ‘meaningless popularity contest that told patients nothing about medical skill’.

The report says that the new site will enable patients to comment anonymously on GP services, giving both positive and negative feedback. Comments will be moderated to prevent the identification of individuals.

Since April, NHS Choices has given patients the opportunity to post comments on hospitals.

Bradshaw tells the Guardian that he wants to give patients access to similar feedback about GPs. "On NHS Choices there is already some useful information about whether a practice offers extended hours and how it performs on the quality indicators. But the quality scores look like the results of an east European election under the Soviet regime. Nearly all get 96%, 97% or 98%. That doesn’t really give people an idea of whether the practice is better or worse than others in the area.

"I want people to be able to read comments. It may be that people think the GP is fantastic and they can always get an appointment within 48 hours. Or they may have terrible experiences and think the receptionist is really rude."

The Department of Health said the new service would drive improvement.

A spokesperson said:"NHS Choices provides a new way of communicating for the NHS, with an open dialogue between the patient, public and services. Alongside patient comments, there is a whole series of areas on the website where people can comment and provide feedback.

"We are encouraging hospitals – and will do so with GP practices – to make
the most of the patient comments facility to engage with patients.  We have
seen that the comments are mixed and balanced and this is an opportunity to
respond online and demonstrate to prospective and current patients how they, the NHS, are taking feedback on board."

Using the internet to give patient feedback on GPs is not entirely new. Earlier this year there were protests and threats of legal action from some doctors upset by the rating site, I Want Great Care, which names individuals.

Patient Opinion, founded by Sheffield GP, Dr Paul Hodgkin, offers a facility for patients to comment on NHS hospitals, hospices and mental health services. The site lists improvements that have been made in response to comments posted by patients and carers.