Darzi - quality accounts 'nothing to fear'

Trusts should not use quality accounts as a tool to performance manage GPs, health minister Lord Darzi has said.

In his review last summer, the health minister announced plans to require NHS organisa-tions to publish measures of the quality of their services. These new quality accounts will be introduced to acute care in April 2010, and primary care the following year.

At a King's Fund event last week, Dr Rebecca Rosen, a GP in south London, said the pro-fession was afraid the new measures could be used to manage GPs, or could even be linked to payments.

But Lord Darzi said that the 'ability to benchmark them-selves against their colleagues' will be enough to motivate underperformers to improve.

In the BMJ/King's Fund debate that followed the conference, Dr James Cave, a GP in Berkshire, said: 'I have never met a clinician that's happy being an outlier.

'We will work our socks off. The reason we don't do that is because we don't have the data.'

Lord Darzi accepted that some metrics included in the quality accounts may be determined by the health of a population, and thus be beyond practices' control.

The quality accounts will allow GPs to compare their performance with that of similar practices, however.

A GP poll of 378 GPs found that 47 per cent backed quality accounts.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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