DoH to judge practices on voluntary quality scheme

GP practices that do not take part in a controversial accreditation scheme can expect ‘vigorous' action from their PCT.

Lord Warner

The voluntary scheme being produced by the RCGP will be used to monitor practice performance, health minister Lord Warner has said, and those who do not sign up to it will face contractual scrutiny from their PCT.

His comments came in response to concerns that practice-based commissioning (PBC) could widen existing inequalities.

Delegates at the annual National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) conference in Harrogate last week said that areas with existing financial problems would be less likely to take part in PBC and inequalities would be exacerbated.

Speaking at the conference, Lord Warner said the DoH wanted to work on the RCGP scheme so it could ensure equal quality standards across GP practices.

‘We want to work with the RCGP on their accreditation scheme,’ he said. ‘Where practices won’t take part, PCTs should be more vigorous with contracts and not put up with poor performance.

‘We want to work with the body of the profession — a profession needs a proper accreditation scheme.’

The RCGP proposed the accreditation scheme in June but shelved it following concerns it would be ‘misused as a star rating or league table system’ (GP, 16 June). The college subsequently announced that a voluntary scheme would go ahead based on its Quality Team Development programme (GP, 29 September).

A spokeswoman for the RCGP said it was working to develop proposals for a pilot project ‘aimed at all providers of primary medical care’.

‘In advance of the pilots, it is too early to discuss how this could be delivered,’ she said.

‘We must emphasise the voluntary nature of the scheme. In view of this, do not feel it is appropriate to link it to contractual monitoring which is a matter for the GPC.’

GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said the GPC was happy to look at pilots of the scheme but said he was still not convinced it was a good idea and that Lord Warner’s comments had not helped.

‘Even if this could add value to what we have, we have to be certain it is not another layer of bureaucracy,’ he said.

  • 9 June The RCGP announces plans for a three-level voluntary accreditation scheme based on its existing schemes.
  • 16 June The RCGP halts plans following concerns it would be ‘misused as a league table system’. The college suspends talks with the DoH.
  • 29 September RCGP says a voluntary scheme will go ahead, based on its Quality Team Development scheme. It intends to consult the GPC and will resume talks with the DoH.
  • 10 November Lord Warner warns ‘where practices won’t take part PCTs should be more vigorous with contracts’.

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