GP quality accounts to set out cost savings

Practices could be expected to identify efficiency savings as part of the 'quality accounts' they must publish from 2011.

DoH guidance on piloting quality accounts in primary care identifies concerns that the reports 'may be more of a burden for smaller providers'. It says there is 'a risk (of them) being used for performance management'.

GP practices will be expected to produce their first annual quality account in June 2011.

The reports must set out practices' 'overarching vision for quality' and at least three priorities for improvement.

The DoH guidance says GPs compiling the reports 'should bear in mind the quality and productivity challenge when setting priorities.' It adds: 'Prioritising the most effective treatments reduces errors, improves the quality of care and makes the NHS more efficient.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the best way to make the NHS more efficient was to 'stop wasting time doing this type of exercise'.

'It's yet another bureaucratic burden, providing information that is not valued by patients, who have become extremely sceptical of this kind of thing.'

Quality accounts are billed by the DoH as a 'chance to promote and sustain GPs' popularity by allowing practices to be in charge of reporting performance and quality improvement'.

But workshops ahead of the pilots raised concerns that commissioners may use the reports for performance management, and warned smaller practices face a greater burden acquiring and reporting the data needed. Patients may be sceptical of 'marketing documents', they added.

Dr Vautrey said that the GPC was contributing wherever it could to make the accounts 'manageable and realistic'. He hoped managers may abandon the schemes to save money.

'This is better suited to a larger organisation. GP practices have not got the staff or time to do this work,' he said.

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