96% of GP Surgeries are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, but patient reviews tell a different story
Google Reviews of GP practices in England reveal an average rating of just 2.81/5 and 89% are rated below 4/5
- Exeter has the highest rated GP surgeries with an average score of 3.52/5 on Google – it also has six ‘Outstanding’ rated surgeries by the CQC
- Peterborough has the lowest rated GP surgeries with an average score of 2.4/5 on Google, but 16% of its practices were awarded ‘Outstanding’ status in their last official inspection
- Of the 20 worst rated GPs on Google, Leicester features six times on the list and Birmingham features four times
- Birmingham also has the most GPs that have been rated as ‘Inadequate’ overall by the CQC
- Over half (56%) of the GP practices analysed haven’t been inspected by the CQC for at least three years
- For more information, please visit: How GP Surgeries Are Rated Across England
Nearly all GP surgeries in England have been rated either ‘Good’ (91%) or ‘Outstanding (5%) by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), but online reviews left by patients reveal a different story.
The average review score on Google is just 2.81 out of five, and nine in ten GPs are (89%) have a score of four or less out of five.
They looked at the latest CQC inspection reports and Google reviews of over 850 different GP practices in 21 major UK towns and cities, to see how these compare, and determine if it is a ‘postcode lottery’ when it comes to local healthcare provision.
According to the CQC figures, just 2% of the general practices analysed ‘Require Improvement’ and 1% received an overall ‘Inadequate’ service report rating following their last in-person inspections.
In comparison, five times as many (15%) had a poor online patient review score of 2/5 or less, and just 11% of the practices had an average Google review score of 4/5 (or higher).
Average GP Practice Google Review Rating Per Town / City and How This Compares to CQC Ratings
Looking at this on a per location level, patient reports suggest there is particular room for improvement in Peterborough, where practices there have earned an average online review score of just 2.4/5 – the lowest of all the 21 towns and cities analysed.
No GPs in Peterborough were rated ‘Inadequate’ by the CQC though – when last inspected, two practices (11%) were considered to require some improvement overall, while three (16%) had been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ rating.
Also, at the bottom of the table for online patient reviews are Leicester and Hull (both 2.5/5), and Birmingham (2.59/5).
Birmingham also has the most GPs that were rated as ‘Inadequate’ overall by the Care Quality Commission – and a relatively high 6% were deemed to need some improvement. There are also four surgeries here featured in the ‘worst 20’ according to average Google Reviews figures.
GPs in Leicester were featured six times on the list of the ‘worst 20’ according to patient reviews too, and 8% were deemed either ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requiring Improvement’ overall in official CQC reports.
Hull had a low patient review score, but no GPs were reported to be offering a service below expected levels when they were last officially inspected.
At the other end of the table are Exeter (3.52/5), Cambridge (3.36/5) and Oxford (3.29/5).
In the last CQC inspections of surgeries in Exeter, 35% earned an overall ‘Outstanding’ level – which was the highest of all the areas analysed and was in line with patient reviews. It also doesn’t have a single practice with an overall CQC status below ‘Good’ at this time.
In Cambridge, while many patients seemed satisfied with their experiences, a relatively low 7% of the practices were deemed to be ‘Outstanding’ when they were last inspected, and in Oxford this was 5%.
Patient experiences and official ratings were particularly at odds in Brighton, where the Google reviews score was an above average 3.2/5, but the CQC had classed nearly one in ten (9%) surgeries as offering a service below its overall expected level.
Overall, the medical providers that appeared in both the highest-rated top twenty on Google and were awarded ‘Outstanding’ status in official reviews were:
- Astley General Practice and Ancoats Urban Village Medical Practice in Manchester
- Granta Medical Practice in Cambridge
- Woodbury Surgery in Exeter
- Stonegate Medical Practice in York.
While the providers that features in the lowest rated on Google and were deemed ‘Inadequate’ by the CQC at the time of inspection were:
- Stanley Medical Centre in Liverpool
- The Mayflower Medical Centre in Plymouth
Nationwide, surgeries were most likely to have been officially classified as ‘Inadequate’ in the overall safety and leadership/management criteria, while an ‘Outstanding’ rating was most likely to have been awarded to practices who evidenced high levels of responsiveness.
When drilling down into specific patient groups, it is families and working-aged people who are most likely to receive a service that the CQC would consider as ‘requiring improvement’.
Ian Clifton, Medical Negligence Solicitor at Simpson Millar commented: “GP surgeries are a vital front line of defence for people. We believe they should be adequately funded, and support should be made available to implement changes as needed following CQC inspections.
It is great to see many GP surgeries being rated well, despite the challenges of the last few years.
It is also clear that many practices haven’t been inspected in some time though. Perhaps due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more than eight in ten (81%) of the GPs we analysed have not been inspected since March 2020, and if we compare their official ratings with online patient reviews it is clear that there is some disparity in several towns and cities.
Sadly, failings in care at GP surgeries can have a devastating impact on patients. Where failings are identified, it is our opinion that lessons learnt should be shared across all surgeries to protect patients.
Patients who suffer as a result of medical negligence often pursue a claim for compensation to pay for follow up treatment, loss of earnings and rehabilitation. However, many take legal action in a bid to ensure that changes are made.”
Further information about this study can be found at: How GP Surgeries Are Rated Across England
- List of GPs and practices - https://digital.nhs.uk/services/organisation-data-service/file-downloads/gp-and-gp-practice-related-data
- Google review data - https://www.google.com/maps
- To find each GPs CQC rating - https://www.cqc.org.uk/care-service/find-family-doctor-or-gp
- Information on inspection processes - https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/independent-healthcare/when-we-will-inspect-independent-healthcare-services
- Categorisation information - https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/how-we-inspect-regulate/how-we-prioritise-risk-0
- We downloaded a list of the latest list of active GP surgeries in England
- We filtered these by city
- We selected a list of 21 mayor towns and cities, considering their population size and geographical distribution across England - we did not include London
- We looked up each GP surgery name in Google Maps, and noted down the number of times it has been reviewed, and the average review rating
- We then looked up each GP surgery name in the CQC database and noted down details about its inspection and review ratings
- We then worked out the average review rating and CQC 'standard' per city or town
- We also looked at how recently GP surgeries have been inspected. We refer to 'since the start of Covid-19' which means before 23rd March 2022
- When preparing the ‘best 20’ and ‘worst 20’ lists, we discounted any GP practices with fewer than ten online reviews
- In some towns / cities, there were not matching listings on Google and the CQC database (in terms of the practice name or address) and so only the available data was included and counted
THE FULL DATA SET IS AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
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