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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

NHS Choices

NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk) is the primary public facing website of the NHS. Its pages include directories of local health services, information on a wide range of conditions and treatments and accessible public health information. The site also provides comparative data about healthcare providers, to help people make informed choices about their healthcare. This includes enabling online feedback on services.

Pharmacy contractors can register to take ownership of their pharmacy profiles and edit information such as opening hours, services offered and car parking arrangements. It is also possible to register to receive alerts and respond to any feedback left on the site.

Quick Links:

Registering for Management Rights

Self-Editable Profiles

Patient Feedback

Contacts for support

Frequently Asked Questions


Registering for Management Rights

There are two types of management rights that pharmacies can register to obtain:

  • Web Editor rights allow an individual to update the editable information on their pharmacy profile e.g. service details or opening times.

  • Comment Administrator rights alert an individual to the publication of moderated patient feedback (a rating and/or free text comment) on their profile, and allow the individual to publish (subject to a moderation process) a response to that feedback.

It is for a pharmacy contractor to decide whether they would like the same staff member or two different staff members to perform these separate functions. More than one staff member can be registered linked to a particular role and one staff member can be registered linked to more than one pharmacy profile.

During December 2012, the NHS Choices team sent a letter to all pharmacies, except CCA and AIMp member companies, outlining the arrangements for registration. If you have not already been fully set up on NHS Choices:

  • Email the NHS Choices helpdesk (thechoicesteam@nhschoices.nhs.uk) with your request to activate one or both of your management rights.
  • In the email, please quote the unique reference number that can be found at the top of the letter from the NHS Choices team, along with your pharmacy’s name and the name and email address of the staff member(s) to be given web editor and/or comment administrator rights.
  • Any email address can be used to register; this doesn’t need to be an NHSmail address.The activation of the account can take up to two weeks and you will receive an email confirmation.

If you didn't receive the letter, contact the NHS Choices helpdesk. They will be able to register you without the unique reference number provided in the letter but it will be a longer process as they need to verify your identity.

CCA and AIMp have indicated that their member companies will be co-ordinating registration at Head Office level therefore NHS Choices will be in direct contact with the relevant Head Offices rather than individual branches.


Self-Editable Profiles

Every month, over 200,000 visitors search for information about community pharmacies on NHS Choices. This number continues to grow. As well as ensuring information on the site is up-to-date, taking control of the information on the NHS Choices website offers pharmacies a marketing opportunity. Where pharmacies currently have no website, the profile pages on NHS Choices could act as the pharmacy’s website address. Where pharmacies already have a website, pharmacies can hyperlink to this from their NHS Choices pharmacy profile.

To take ownership of your profile, you need to register for web editor rights. Once registered, you will receive an email from NHS Choices explaining that you have been assigned editing rights and containing your log in details and a link to get you started.

To login to the site, navigate to any page on NHS Choices (it does not have to be the profile page of your pharmacy), look for the ‘log in’ link at the top right hand corner of the page and enter your details.

Upon successful log in you will be presented with an administrative screen listing the NHS Choices pharmacy profile(s) for which you have editing rights. Clicking on the name of the profile(s) will take you directly to the pharmacy’s pages, ready for editing.

If NHS Choices needs to communicate with you about the editing system, this administrative area is also the area you will see alerts and messages.

Updating Information

The editing mechanism adopts a 'what you see is what you get' style of editing. Your profile compromises of a variety of pages of information organised in modules. Where you have the ability to edit a module, it will have a clearly marked ‘edit’ button for you to click.

Upon clicking the edit button, the fields within the module will become editable. Upon making changes, just select ‘save’ and your changes will be committed, or ‘Cancel’ if you no longer wish to proceed. In the event that you have saved your changes and are unhappy with your edit, the editing system offers an undo function for your most recent change.

Some modules are not editable, such as centrally managed NHS Choices data, or in some cases, data may be editable on a different page instead. These modules will be marked with a ‘This cannot be edited’ button. Clicking on this button, displays text explaining whether the module is centrally managed or if the information can be edited in another area of the site (such as reusable contact information).

You will be able to see any changes you make immediately so can judge how your pages look with certain information populated.

The contact module contains pharmacy contact information. If there are changes to the pharmacy name or address, pharmacies should inform the NHS England Area Team of the change and request that the NHS England Area Team arrange for NHS Prescription Services records to be updated.

Pharmacies can make amendments to their opening hours, as listed on the NHS Choices site. The opening hours published on the NHS Choices website should be the current opening hours, as recorded at the NHS England Area Team. Remember! Pharmacy opening hours cannot be amended without giving the  at least 90 days notice (if the hours being changed are supplementary hours) and applying to the NHS England Area Team for changes to core hours, which if agreed, cannot be changed until 90 days after the application, and not earlier than 30 days after the date the application was granted by the NHS England Area Team.

In the services module, there are fields to include a short description of pharmacy services offered. Template service descriptions have been developed that pharmacies can copy/paste into their NHS Choices profiles. These can be accessed on the NHS Choices website (recommended). Pharmacies can include information on both private and NHS-funded services on the site however NHS funded services should include a clear reference to indicate that the service is being provided with NHS funding. Note in October 2011, the Regulations changed to mandate that where a pharmacy advertises NHS Essential and Advanced services there should be an acknowledgement that these are funded by the NHS.

In the facilities module, there is a free-text area that can be used to provide information on car parking, for example, whether there are car parking charges in place and how far the car parking is from the pharmacy.


 


Patient Feedback

Patients that want to leave a comment about a provider need to locate the relevant provider on NHS Choices and click on ‘Add your comments’ under the ‘Performance and Feedback’ section. Patients will be asked to state whether, based on their overall experience, they would recommend the provider to a friend. They will then be asked to evaluate the provider by typing in a free-text comments box. No comments will be posted until they have been individually moderated. Members of the public visiting a profile will be able to view any feedback left by clicking on the ‘Patient feedback’ tab.

Pharmacy Right of Reply

Pharmacy contractors can register for 'comment administrator' rights to receive an alert that a comment has been posted and to respond. Replies will appear directly beneath the original comment.

Responding to a Comment

  • When a comment is left on a pharmacy profile, “comment administrators” will receive an email alert from NHS Choices. This email will be from the sender ‘No Reply’ and will have the title ‘NHS Choices: content published’.
  • The email will tell you a comment has been left against the pharmacy’s profile and provide a link to that comment on NHS Choices. It will also provide a link to the system, called ‘organisation response’, where you can write your reply.
  • You will need to login to the organisation response system using your email address and password. These details will have been provided to you by email when your comment administrator account was activated.
  • You can change your password on the NHS Choices Website.
  • Once you are logged in to ‘organisation response’, you will see all of the comments that have been made about your pharmacy. Each comment will have a link to ‘Enter a response’.
  • When clicked, a box will open up into which you can write your response. Responses can be a maximum of 2,000 characters.
  • When you have finished writing your response, click the ‘submit response’ button.
  • This response will then enter NHS Choices moderation system. Once it has passed moderation, it will be published beneath the original comment.

Safeguards

A number of important safeguards have been put in place to protect pharmacies and members of staff from unwarranted threats to their reputation. These are as follows:

  • All comments will be pre-moderated by a dedicated team of external trained moderators. The moderation organisation also manages the comments made on the NSPCC, Channel 4 and BBC websites. Comments that are racist, libellous, generally offensive or defamatory will not be allowed;
  • Individual staff (either clinical or nonclinical) cannot be named and all gender references will be removed;
  • Whilst anonymous comments are allowed, users have to provide a validated e-mail address before a comment can appear on the site so NHS Choices can contact the correspondent if necessary;
  • An ‘alert’ button will enable pharmacies to bring to NHS Choices’ attention comments they deem to be unsuitable or offensive. NHS Choices will then investigate these. If the moderation rules have been broken, the comment will be removed permanently. If not, it will re-appear;
  • Users are prohibited from using NHS Choices to campaign or make politically motivated comments;
  • Vexatious comments are not permissible.

 

Hints and Tips from NHS Choices on Responding to Patient Feedback

 

1. Respond to all comments, good or bad, as it shows you listen.

2. Patient comments are an excellent opportunity to market the service you are providing.

3. Welcome all opinions and try not to be defensive or aggressive if they are negative.

4. Do not use the same stock response to each comment. If anything, this looks worse than not responding at all.

5. Treat anonymous comments with just as much seriousness as named ones. Just because someone has chosen to comment anonymously, it doesn’t mean that the comment is malicious. For anonymous comments, a good approach is to suggest the user visits you to talk in person about the issues they’ve raised.

6. Providers can respond to most comments without breaching patient confidentiality. As a bare minimum, a provider can say that patient confidentiality prevents them going into detail but that the commenter is welcome to visit to discuss the issues personally.

7. Remember that statements made in patient feedback are opinions, not statements of fact. NHS Choices cannot check whether each opinion is factually correct, nor is it a legal requirement that comments be entirely factually correct in order to be published. Just because you disagree with the opinion or believe it is wrong, it does not mean it is defamatory for it to be published.

8. Say who has left the response. This adds a personal touch and increases the perception that the provider is an open, welcoming place.

9. Remember that your reply will be the final word. People giving feedback are not allowed to post further comments about the same experience or respond to your replies. If you see this, please ‘report’ the comment and we will remove it.

10. The commenter may have said nothing to the provider when they had their experience, yet still write a very negative comment. Just because you don’t recognise the experience, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

11. Patient feedback is completely separate from the official complaints process. If someone is following that process, they are still entitled to leave feedback.

12. Do not ask NHS Choices to tell you who wrote the comment. We can’t. If we did, we’d breach data protection laws.

13. Remember, your response will be seen by everyone who reads your provider’s comments, not just the original commenter. Your reply is a good opportunity to market your organisation’s approach to patient comments.

 


Support and More Information

Registration requests and enquiries should be made the NHS Choices Helpdesk (thechoicesteam@nhschoices.nhs.uk or 0845 650 4865). General support is also available from the PSNC Information Team (0844 381 4180 or 0203 1220 810). 

NHS Choices Website

Letter from NHS Choices team to pharmacies (December 2012) (PDF)

Pharmacy Template Service Descriptions   (Recommended)

What Patients Think: An Analysis of User Ratings and Comments on NHS Choices (PDF File)

 


Frequently Asked Questions


1. I would like to use my NHS Choices' pharmacy profile  as my pharmacy website but the website address is almost 100 characters long. This isn't practical to put on my business card?

The NHS Choices Team have confirmed that they are currently piloting shortened URLs. It is hoped that this feature will be made available to pharmacies in future.

2. Can I post  information on the private services that I provide on my NHS Choices pharmacy profile?

Yes, pharmacies can include information on both private and NHS-funded services on the site however NHS funded services should include a clear reference to indicate that the service is being provided with NHS funding. Note in October 2011, the Regulations changed to mandate that where a pharmacy advertises NHS Essential and Advanced services there should be an acknowledgement that these are funded by the NHS.

3. Does the same individual need to act as profile editor and patient feedback comment administrator for a particular pharmacy?

No. The passwords for editing pharmacy profiles and responding to feedback are different. It is for a pharmacy contractor to decide whether they would like the same staff member or different staff members to perform these two functions. 

4. Is it possible for more than one staff member from the same pharmacy to have profile editing rights?

Yes, it is possible to have multiple individuals assigned as editors of a particular pharmacy profile, for example if it was a contractor’s preference to have a staff member at Head Office and a staff member at store level, sharing responsibility for keeping the profile up to date.

5. Is it possible to assign more than one staff member from a particular pharmacy patient feedback comment administrator rights (including receiving email alerts when comments are posted)?

Yes, it is possible to have multiple individuals assigned as patient feedback comment administrators of a particular pharmacy, for example, if a pharmacy owner would prefer to delegate responsibility for responding to feedback to a member of their team but would also like to personally receive the alerts of any feedback received.

6. If there is a change of ownership of the pharmacy, how should the new owner register for profile editing rights and patient feedback comment administrator rights?

The new owner should contact the NHS Choices helpdesk for these rights; access will be enabled for the new owner and access rights removed from the old owner.

7. How long is patient feedback retained on the site?

Patient feedback is retained on the site for 5 years. All feedback is dated, however, so users can take into this into account with older feedback. Also, all feedback which is two years or over is flagged as being so, which gives further context. Finally, all ratings which are more than 2 years old are decoupled from the pharmacy's 'overall rating' score. 

8. If patients have provided feedback on a pharmacy profile and there is a change in ownership, will the comments be removed?

The comments will still be retained provided the pharmacy occupies the same physical premises and retains the same name. If it moves or changes name, the NHS Choices team would normally remove the feedback and/or set up a new profile. Where the feedback is retained, the NHS Choices team would advise the new owners to make clear in their profile that the pharmacy is under new ownership and, if there are old items of feedback which have not been replied to, add replies to these stating that this feedback relates to a period when the pharmacy was under different ownership.

9. I have been using the search functionality on the site to check whether the smoking cessation service that I provide shows when I search for local smoking cessation services. My pharmacy isn't shown in the search results. Why might this be?

On the NHS Choices site, it is possible for members of the public to search for the provider of a specific service, for example stop-smoking services or sexual health services. Currently the data on services provided comes from a number of sources including local NHS organisations and organisations external to the NHS, for example information on allergy support services is being supplied by the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology. A current problem is that this information may not be comprehensive or up-to-date. The NHS Choices team are working to redevelop the user interface for searching services to provide a full list of services by location regardless of who/where a service is provided. To ensure that pharmacies are listed correctly in search results in future, it will be essential for pharmacies to ensure that their NHS Choices profile includes all of the NHS services that they provide.

If you have a specific question, contact the PSNC Information Team for support: info@psnc.org.uk