RCGP accreditation plan excludes any star ratings

Practice quality scheme set for 2009 if pilots are successful.

A new system of accreditation for primary care providers is set to be piloted in England from April.

The RCGP is currently developing an alternative to the 'licence to operate' that will be required in 2010 from the new health regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The voluntary scheme will be evidence-based and professionally-led said Professor Sir Steve Field, chairman of the RCGP.

'There seems to be a real desire to do something that is professionally-led, rather than imposed from the outside,' he said.

Four PCTs will pilot the scheme in April, with 40 practices being involved.

The pilots will last a year, and if they are successful, could be introduced by early 2009.

The proposed scheme will include an accreditation visit to the practice to determine standards, self-assessment, and a development plan for improvement.

'It is about helping practices develop. There will be lots of feedback to help practices improve,' said Professor Field.

Practices that comply with the scheme's standards could display an RCGP plaque and have their results available to patients online.

'It would not be like a star rating though', said Professor Field. 'I'm not keen on that. I think it sends out the wrong message.'

Still in its early planning stages, it is unclear how much work will be involved for a practice involved in the accreditation.

The RCGP hopes the accreditation scheme will offer a real alternative to the registration scheme proposed by the DoH.

This will not be confirmed until the pilot is complete and the CQC is formed in October.


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