By politics.co.uk staff
Patients are to be encouraged to comment on their GPs' performance on an NHS website.
New government proposals will aim to improve standards through competition, but doctors have rejected the idea as a glorified popularity contest.
The Department of Health (DoH) claims remarks left on the website will be monitored and moderated to prevent defamation or the rating of an individual doctor.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw told the Guardian newspaper he hoped the scheme would work in the same way holidaymakers checked Trip Adviser before travelling or checked Amazon for reviews of books.
"I would never think of going on holiday without cross-referencing at least two guide books and using Trip Adviser," the minister said.
"We need to do something similar for the modern generation in healthcare. I can already learn a lot from the comments of people, both positive and negative, about a type of treatment or a hospital. We need to extend the service to cover GPs."
The British Medical Association (BMA), however, criticised the plans for a website where people could "slander or praise irresponsibly".
"Patients should be able to choose a doctor, but I don't think this is the way to do it," Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said.
"I think this has everything to do with consumerism and it has not been thought through well. I am happy for people to praise or criticise their doctor, but this is not the way professionals should interact with their patients.
"It has a great potential to be misleading."
A DoH spokesman said at present it was hoped patients would be able to post comments by the end of the summer 2009.