Patients across the UK will soon be able to provide live feedback on NHS services via a new website, similar to the popular holiday reviews site Tripadvisor, which will be rolled out nationally next year.
NHS director of patients and information, Tim Kelsey, said in an interview with the Guardian that a successful three month trial across 20 hospital trusts had led to the decision to expand the service.
The Care Connect website cost £150,000 to set up and the government plans to bring in a private company to eventually run it.
It allows anyone to see complaints and reviews that have been logged, mapped, and handled.
However, Kelsey was keen to point out that the site was not about “naming and shaming”, but rather was intended to provide a tool to NHS trusts that could contact patients within hours of a complaint, instead of waiting for it to be delivered to the patient liaison service.
“It’s what any consumer of health services would expect,” he said.
Kelsey also said that by embracing “openness” the NHS would improve. Computerworld UK revealed last year that he was heading up discussions with the US government about how datasets could be accessed to give patients more power over how they received healthcare.
Commenting on the Care Connect website, Kelsey said: “This has gone really quite well. So we have taken the decision to roll it out nationally next year.”
The website currently contains complaints that carry serious allegations against NHS trusts and staff. For example, one post complains of patients being “smeared and laughed at” by staff, whilst another woman in Essex states that she had to wait two months for contraception.
According to the Guardian, the British Medical Association has concern that the comments would be patrolled properly.
A spokesman said: "It's important that comments that are defamatory, or which threaten the confidentiality of other patients, are screened out and consideration is given to how patients might interact with the service using social media."
Elsewhere, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for a paperless NHS by 2018 in a bid to save the government £4.4 billion a year. He said patients should have compatible digital records so their health information can follow them around the health and social care system. This would allow healthcare workers to easily access a patient’s records, and share information, via electronic systems.