Accredit to 'escape scorecards'

RCGP practice accreditation could become a mandatory means of proving practice quality and bring major cuts in bureaucracy, the professor leading work on the scheme says.

Professor Lester: accreditation may be mandatory
Professor Lester: accreditation may be mandatory

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has previously said practices that are accredited may avoid heavy scrutiny.

Professor Helen Lester, deputy director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, said she thought CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower wanted all practices accredited.

'Cynthia's comments have implications that it could be mandatory. I can't say whether it will be,' said Professor Lester.

At a BMA conference on quality in general practice last week, Professor Lester also said accredited practices might escape 'balanced scorecards'.

'We hope that it might be one way of saying to PCOs: "Rather than making up your own (quality criteria) why don't you use one that has been piloted and developed with a number of stakeholders?" '

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said accreditation could 'stop PCTs asking for different things in different areas' and demonstrate to government that UK general practice was the best in the world.

Professor Field and GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman took to the stage together to say the profession should 'no longer tolerate poor practice'.

Ms Bower told the event that the CQC would hold 'risk profiles' on practices, despite the regulator's former chairman Baroness Barbara Young denying this in interviews last year.

From 2012, practices must register with the CQC and meet 16 core standards or face inspection, fines or closure.

Ms Bower agreed that PCTs' balanced scorecards could duplicate the work of the CQC and accreditation: 'We don't all need to be checking up on quality. We need to do it once. We will be picking up on that.'

Practice accreditation is expected to be a twoor three-year programme. Year one will cover compliance with CQC registration. Dr Lester said pilot practices felt workload was 'manageable'.

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