A WREXHAM consultant has been rated as North Wales’ top doctor on a TripAdvisor style website for medics.
Surgeon Michael Thornton has achieved five-star ratings on iWantGreatCare from satisfied patients whom he has treated at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
The site uses feedback from patients and staff to highlight excellent care within the NHS and also pinpoint potential problems.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Hospital Board is also running a pilot scheme with the website to gather real-time feedback from patients and their relatives about the hospital’s wards (bcuhb.iwgc.net).
So far the hospital has been reviewed a staggering 6,830 times, with an impressive 4.6 stars out of a possible 5 for March. Many reviewers have praised the hospital’s staff and wards, though others have expressed their concerns about waits at A&E.
Among the comments about Mr Thornton, posted by anonymous patients at www.iwgc.org/mr-thornton, one wrote: “Mr Thornton has a fantastic bedside manner and he talks to you in a language that you can understand, no medical jargon.”
And another proclaimed: “Mr Thornton was absolutely lovely, his bedside manner was caring and very polite.”
Another review sang his praises further, adding: “I was seen on time and greeted with a friendly smile. Mr Thornton was relaxed, reassuring and most importantly, very clear and easy to understand, without being in any way dismissive.”
Mr Thornton, 39, a specialist in colorectal laparoscopic surgery, said about the reviews: “It’s very nice to have that positive feedback. Often patients don’t say things to you and feel awkward about thanking you.
“We feel awkward too as we’re just doing our jobs, but if they have then gone home, had time to reflect on their experiences and taken the time and made the effort to visit a website and say nice things, then that’s very rewarding.”
Mr Thornton moved to Wrexham in October 2014, after training in Merseyside and Leeds, and commutes from his home in Heswall, Wirral.
He said: “Ever since I came here all the consultants have been very supportive and the patients are very pleasant people.
“It’s a friendly environment and I’m very busy doing the kind of rewarding surgery that I enjoy.”
While feedback so far has only been good for Mr Thornton, he says that negative comments are even more important for improving standards of care.
He said: “You are occasionally going to receive negative feedback, which might not be very pleasant, but is more important in many ways as that allows you to modify your practice and make improvements.
“Patients might feel uncomfortable talking about those experiences but having a site like this gives them somewhere to air their views and gives us as clinicians an idea on where there are changes that need to be made.”
The scheme is part of a wider approach to improve services and increase patient choice, and invites patients to offer feedback to help both future patients and the health services they have assessed.
Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor and Bodelwyddan’s Ysbyty Glan Clwyd have received fewer reviews as they are not yet part of the BCUHB project with iWantGreatCare.
BCUHB chief executive Gary Doherty has welcomed the findings from the pilot scheme.
Mr Doherty said: “This independent organisation gathers feedback from patients and gives us great insight into their experiences.
“It is vital for us to know where we need to improve – and the feedback about A&E at Wrexham shows that we need to concentrate our work there.
“However, it is also great to hear when some of our exceptionally talented individuals are being lauded and applauded, such as Mr Thornton, along with our wards and services.”
Dr Neil Bacon, CEO and founder of iWantGreatCare said: “A patient adding an opinion to iWantGreatCare is a direct and effective way to help other patients and carers. As more reviews are added, patients looking for the best doctor, nursing home or medicine can read the shared experience of thousands of others to help them find the care best suited to their needs.
“Adding an anonymous opinion to iWantGreatCare is also an effective way to give constructive feedback and thanks to a doctor. This makes the doctor aware of the patient’s experience and helps improve the care they give.
“Being transparent and open about patients’ feedback will help doctors build trusted relationship with their patients. Such relationships are known to deliver better health outcomes.”