DoH twists quality scheme to attack GPs

What does the DoH think GPs have to hide? There seems to be a constant air of suspicion among ministers that GPs are up to something — and that ‘something' is not about delivering good patient care.

The latest example of ministerial paranoia came last week from Lord Warner, who said primary care organisations should scrutinise practices that did not sign up to the RCGP’s planned voluntary accreditation scheme.

The minister wanted every practice to sign up to ensure consistent quality standards across GP practices — which raises the question of what exactly the quality framework is for, if not to ensure consistent quality standards across GP practices (let alone meet requirements for the various directed enhanced services such as for access or IT).

It seems that, in ministers’ eyes at least, those GPs who are tired of a tick-box culture and decide to concentrate limited resources and time on patient care and the already numerous statutory requirements, rather than jumping through an additional set of hoops, are by definition bad doctors.

RCGP chairman Dr Mayur Lakhani has always said the college’s scheme was to be an independent and voluntary process that GPs could use to help develop their practices. It was never intended to be used for ‘punishment and blame’ (GP, 16 June).

And yet that is exactly what Lord Warner wants to use it for.

This, coupled with the CMO for England’s proposal that fitness-to-practise cases be decided on the ‘balance of probabilities’, suggests a deep-set view in the DoH that there is something fundamentally rotten in the medical profession that the government has to uncover.

Despite this suspicion, GPs consistently meet quality targets and have the support of the public.

There are many real problems in today’s NHS. It is time ministers like Lord Warner concentrated on using valuable time and resources on solving those rather than trying to right some imagined wrong that is invisible to the rest of us.

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