Practices work harder but quality scores fall

Practices across the UK are bracing themselves for a likely fall in quality scores for 2006/7.

However, it is still unclear exactly what the effects of the tougher quality framework for 2006/7 have been.

The loss of 50 access points meant that the maximum that practices could achieve was 1,000. GPs have had to do substantial extra work to prevent the scores from dipping even lower.

Last month GP reported that there were difficulties meeting mental health targets worth 26 points (GP, 9 March).

Although no formal figures have been released, individual practices have been calculating their own quality scores for the end of the financial year. According to national GP leaders, scores have slipped since last year.

Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the Scottish GPC, said: ‘I’ve only spoken to a few colleagues. Because of a variety of issues scores will almost certainly be lower than last year.’

A similar picture appears to be taking shape in Northern Ireland. GP Dr Brian Patterson, chairman of the Northern Ireland BMA Council, said: ‘We haven’t got precise figures, and we haven’t had the feedback from health boards, but scores seem to be going down.’

The loss of access points meant his practice scored 1,000 instead of 1,050 points.

Dr Patterson said that GPs were working harder to keep up the quality scores.

‘They are doing significantly more work than before.’

He added: ‘Scores have been harder to achieve but we’ve achieved them.’

GPC negotiator Richard Vautrey said that many GPs had made ‘significant efforts’ to improve their quality framework scores.

‘Because there are so few other sources of income, the quality framework scores are now the best way to maintain practice income,’ he said.

GPC Wales chairman Dr Andrew Dearden pointed out that any evidence was purely anecdotal, but said that quality  scores might be slipping.

‘I haven’t been inundated with emails and faxes from unhappy doctors,’ he said.

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