'Scorecards should be suspended in pandemic'

The GPC is calling for the roll-out of balanced scorecards to be suspended while GPs battle cases of swine flu.

The DoH is developing a national balanced scorecard for GP practices under its World Class Commissioning scheme.

Many PCTs already use the scorecards to rate practices, and publish results online. GPs at last month's LMCs conference urged the GPC to take a tougher stance against their use, after PCTs threatened low-scoring practices with closure.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the scorecards' indicators would be 'meaningless' while GPs are dealing with high numbers of flu cases.

'We feel at this time, in the midst of a flu pandemic, this sort of PCT activity should be suspended. PCTs are key in supporting GP practices and should be planning how to deliver services rather than spend time performance managing.'

The GPC is responding to the World Class Commissioning document Improving GP Services, published in January. The document proposes that PCTs mark practices on eight indicators and regularly inspect practices to drive up standards.

Dr Nagpaul said a key part of the document is the pledge to use the scorecards to support practices to improve. 'We want to hold to account the proposal that practices are supported to achieve these indicators.

'It should be a tool for investing in practices. We are not supportive of the agenda of making GPs feel insecure.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey warned the ranking system some PCTs use is too simplistic: 'Simplistic red, amber and green targets are unhelpful.

'Some PCTs have started to implement these. We'd hope any information that is for the public is not fraught with erroneous or simplistic information,' he said.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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