Comment is free. Well, almost free, now that web space is so cheap. It's certainly cheap when you shamelessly rip off a collegue's postings over the last month just to add a wee point of your own (apologies Jobbing Doctor!). Anyways, there're exciting new initiatives such as this one, although it's incomplete and is generated by a failed doctor.
As doctors we learnt anatomy through dissecting dead people. We spent time as clinicians around dead people, what with learning pathology in weekly post mortem examinations. We learnt about life and death, how to keep folk on the right side of the fence. We read old textbooks, thus learnt the thoughts and ideas of people long dead. Doctors mastery over death. Sweet justice, p'raps, that in a similarly necromantic vein patients can now claim dominion over doctors, when their doctor dies, through being able to comment without challenge on said doctor. Well, the doctor may be challenging it, but as I'm not that adept at necromancy, and speaking with the dead being something the NHS isn't yet investing in, it's essentially comment without redress.
It's this comment without being able to give your side that piques me.
I'm all for patient comment and feedback. My out-patient clinic is a leisurely affair so I'm often sitting in the reception or waiting room and capture what folk are chatting over. I meet with patient representatives twice a month and carer representatives once a month. My Royal College was paid a handsome sum of money to undertake 360 degree appraisal. I listed 30 odd staff I work with, including cleaners, secretaries, nurses, Consultants, anaesthetists, social workers, home care staff, support workers, occupational therapists, CBT practitioners, all sorts. Then I listed 30 consecutive patients I saw. That list went off, I had no say in what happened next. Folk were chosen and sent lengthy questionnaires about me, answers were mailed in sealed envelopes back to the Royal College who collated the information, told me how I came over in loads of domains (ask me about my Emotional Intelligence and I can now tell you!) and critically collated and summarised what my patients think of me. They also gave me a CD with the details. They also compared my results with national averages so I could see how I measured up. At my annual appraisal with the Medical Director in another hospital we went through all these pages, with staff and patient comment being scrutinised and impacting upon my formal annual appraisal (and thus can have impact on my pay).
This is a robust system of feedback, that's pooled and although information from patients is anonymous (so to this day I've no idea who was asked to comment let alone how folk rated me or who said what) to my mind it's fair. I'd no choice in which patient to select so there's no bias. I'd no notion who was contacted. They had no pressure to say anything good or bad, nobody was looking over their shoulder and everything was collated by a reputable third party. Well, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which is still vaguely reputable, even if they're changing at a pace measurable in geological epochs, but ho hum that's another issue. From 360 degree appraisal, I find patient feedback is invited and is specific (with a structed questionnaire) and so is fair. I'm happy. If this yielded results which were less than favourable I couldn't challenge them with whoever made them but I could try and offer an account in my formal appraisal for why I felt patients had such an experience. I don't know who's said what, I can't challenge them directly but I've got a voice in it all. This seems sensible and just. I'm happy.
If we want patient feedback, let's use comment and complaint systems that are already in place, but also use mechanisms such as 360 degree appraisal.
Using scrurrilous websites that lack credibility, honesty, authenticity or explanation/just redress is A Bad Thing since it's harmful to doctors and isn't helpful for patients. Let's hope the lawyers can effect change, here.