Scottish practices average 1,026 points

Scottish practices have beaten expectations by capturing an average of 1,026 quality points in the second year of the quality framework.

One practice in six gained a maximum 1,050 point score in 2005/6. Practices have pushed up their 2004/5 average scores by 55 points, a 6 per cent rise.

Achievements rose consistently across clinical and non-clinical domains (see chart).

Dr Mary Church, joint chairwoman of Scottish GPC, said the momentum would be maintained this year.

'Practices are well known to respond to whatever they are asked to deliver. It would be dangerous to assume they would not.'

The most improved practice in Scotland was Torridon Medical Practice, in Achnasheen, Highlands, where GPs Dr Caroline Brown and Dr Helen Stewart gained an extra 542 points in 2005/6, achieving a total of 1,026.

Quality scores for the rest of the UK will be published later in the summer. If other countries keep up with Scotland, practices in Northern Ireland will hit 1,044 points, England 1,014 and those in Wales will average 1,000 points.

But Dr Brian Dunn, chairman of GPC Northern Ireland, said that GPs might not consider the extra work worth the effort.

'The only reason to aim for 1,050 points is snobbery, but the average in Northern Ireland will be well over 1,000,' he said.

One pound in every £5 spent by Scottish health boards on general practice last year went on quality, including £30 million of the general allocation.

Last year Audit Scotland blamed overachievement on the contract for NHS Scotland's debt. Scottish GPs had only been expected to achieve 850 points in 2005/6.

But a Scottish Executive spokesman stressed that the cost represented only 0.5 per cent of the total NHS budget in Scotland.

In the Western Isles, four out of 11 practices scored full marks. Over a quarter of practices in Lothian, which includes Edinburgh, also gained 1,050 points. No practices in either board achieved full points in 2004/5.

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