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Alliance forged to halt league tables

GPs and Government advisers have formed an unlikely alliance in a campaign to head off practice league tables.

Architects of the quality framework and supporters of the Department of Health's quality agenda joined condemnation of Government proposals to publish GPs' scores on the framework as soon as April 2005.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said ministers would be 'very foolhardy to go ahead with publication'.

NHS Confederation and GPC negotiators have reiterated an explicit agreement that the data would not be made public because it would dent GP morale and defeat the object of the framework.

Dr Tony Snell, confederation lead negotiator on the quality framework, said: 'It was about ensuring practices have time to bring themselves up to good standards before entering into a debate about the significance of such data.'

Dr Meldrum said it was irrelevant that the agreement was not written into the contract: 'We have not agreed to elephants being parked in surgeries either.'

Professor Martin Roland, director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre and the lead external adviser on the quality framework, said league tables were likely to damage GP morale.

'There will be a lot of information in the points score and it would be unlikely a crude league table would represent that or that the public could glean anything useful,' he said.

The department confirmed that the first set of quality framework scores in April 2005 would be made available to patients, but denied it intended for practices to be ranked.

A spokesman said: 'We support any moves to make information available.'

Both the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly said they had no plans to publish GP league tables, although the executive said GPs' quality scores would be made available to patients.

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