Online NHS reviews rate hospitals for cleanliness and safety
Thousands of NHS patients have been able precisely to identify hospitals with high death rates and superbug infections
through a 'TripAdvisor' style website
Just as holidaymakers can refer to the well-known ratings site to assess a hotel or destination, patients can voice their views on UK hospitals using the NHS Choices website
Physicians have frequently resisted patients' hospital ratings due to their subjective nature. However, the Department of Health said the study suggests "patient feedback could be even more valuable than previously thought".
The site was announced after over 10,000 patient ratings of all 166 NHS acute hospital trusts were compared by Imperial College researchers against clinical data on health outcomes for MRSA infections and death and readmission rates.
Hospitals given a fair report by NHS Choices had a 5% lower death rate and an 11% lower readmission rate. The study found that the cleanest centres also had 42% fewer MRSA infections than those with negative ratings.
The study, which covered the period between 2009 and 2010, linked positive reviews to hospitals with low rates of C-Difficile. Researchers also found that good patient ratings were related to hospitals with high-risk conditions and low death rates.
According to the study, outcomes showed "a relationship between patients' website ratings of hospitals and some objective measures of clinical quality, including mortality and infection rates".
Dr Felix Greaves, the lead author of the Imperial College London study, said the NHS Choices patient ratings were useful and relevant.
"The match between online ratings and other measures is far from perfect. It's possible for an individual hospital to have good ratings on NHS Choices but a high mortality rate, or vice versa."
"However, the general trend is that where a hospital's overall performance on clinical measures is good, patients seem to rate it highly – and vice versa."
"We suggest that, at least to an extent, the crowd of patients appears to be wise."Useful links