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Government Ripostes To Tories Online NHS Plans

Service to rate hospitals online launches in same week the opposition tout plans to use the web to give patients more say over healthcare

The government has launched an online hospital rating service which it claims “hands more power to the patient” shortly after the Conservative opposition launched a plan to give citizens more control over their healthcare via web technology.

In a statement released this week, the government announced what it describes as a “web-based scorecard” to allow citizens to rate their experiences of local hospitals.

The government claims the online tool works in a similar way to other comparison sites on the web, used to rate flight costs or car insurance for example. The service should make it easier for people to compare hospitals for criteria such as mortality rates, cleanliness and staff performance.

“Going into hospital is one of the most important moments in anyone’s life. And yet we don’t equip patients with anything like enough information to make informed decisions,” said health secretary Andy Burnham. “The new scorecard helps patients make the right choice of hospital for them by bringing together all the information in one place for the first time.”

The launch of the new service, which has no doubt been in development for several months, follows the launch of a report by the Conservatives this week which added more detail to plans announced by party leader David Cameron in April about how the online technologies could be used to improve the performance of the NHS.

In particular the Tories maintain that existing web health technology such as that provided by Microsoft and Google could be used as a more robust and cheaper alternative to the NHS developing its own systems for applications such as electronic patient records.

The goverment has been pushing the importance of using the web to engage with citizens over the last six months. Online luminaries such as web inventor Tim Berners Lee, and Lastminute.com co-founder Martha Lane-Fox, have been hired on as special advisors to help the government improve the services it offers via the Internet.