GPs say quality accounts will confuse patients

Performance RCGP chairman calls for its accreditation scheme to form basis of practice quality accounts.

Dr Richard Vautrey
Dr Richard Vautrey

GPs have condemned DoH plans for quality accounts as yet another layer of information to 'confuse' patients.

The government announced last week that GP surgeries and community care providers will have to publish quality accounts by June 2011.

The proposals, to be published next year, are aimed at acute trusts, but the DoH is asking for opinions on how they could be tailored to primary care.

Acute trusts have to provide an assessment of their performance in safety, effectiveness and patient experience, priorities for improvements, participation in research, innovation, clinical audit and an examination of how many data coding mistakes have been made over the past year.

They also have to include an assessment of their success in meeting local quality priorities.

The DoH claims the aim of the accounts is threefold: to let patients hold organisations to account, to force organisations to analyse their own performance and to help commissioners make decisions.

However, GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said quality accounts, like balanced scorecards, did not show added value because they did not incorporate context, such as the population and deprivation challenges specific practices face.

'They do not really give patients a meaningful picture of the actual quality a practice is achieving through their own efforts,' Dr Vautrey said.

'There are now so many pieces of information available about practices that they are adding to confusion rather than informing patients in any meaningful way.'

Professor Steve Field, RCGP chairman and a member of the DoH task force on quality accounts, said if they were taken as seriously as financial accounts they would be a good lever to drive up clinical care, particularly in hospitals.

He said he was pushing for primary care quality accounts to be based on the RCGP's practice accreditation scheme.

'We want it to keep all quality initiatives bureaucracy-light so information is collected as part of our normal work.'

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