GP clinical governance needs extra GP support

GPs believe PCTs are failing to support practices to improve clinical governance mechanisms, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows.

The report, ‘Improving quality and safety - progress in implementing clinical governance in primary care', says ‘clinical governance links between PCTs and independent contractors are undeveloped'.

GPs reported ‘limited support' from PCTs in helping them to set up clinical governance procedures.

A Medix UK survey on behalf of the NAO found that GPs see the main barriers to improving clinical governance as a lack of protected time and funding to support new initiatives. The NAO report says clinical governance structures and processes in GP practices and pharmacies are ‘not as extensive' as they are at PCT level.

However, GPC deputy chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said there was a lack of clarity over the definition of clinical governance. Practices' small size meant their procedures could not work in the same way as hospital ones.

However, Dr Buckman added that it was a professional responsibility and that GPs do it whatever the level of support they receive from their PCT.

The NAO report said only 4 per cent of GPs reported incidents to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA). However, Dr Buckman pointed out that incidents reported to PCTs are automatically referred to the NPSA.

Clinical Governance

  • 94 per cent of GP practices have a patient incident reporting system.
  • 80 per cent of GPs had changed clinical practice in response to an incident.

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