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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Commission backs 'league tables'

Practices' quality and outcomes scores should be published to demonstrate improvements in GP services, according to the Audit Commission.

But the spending watchdog has warned against the 'possible negative impact of league tables' on morale.

Health minister John Hutton said last autumn practices' scores against the quality framework would be published under the Freedom of Information Act, set to come into force in 2005.

He said the data would not be collected centrally and published as Government league tables, but primary care organisations were free to set their own policies.

The announcement met with strong resistance from GPs.

In its 'Transforming Primary Care' report, the commission said scores should be published 'on probity and trans- parency grounds – patients should have access to information to enable them to exercise informed choices'.

It added: 'The public has a right to know about quality of services and needs assurance that the considerable investment of resources is leading to demonstrable improvements.'

Explanatory information to help users understand the context would need to be published alongside the data, the commission said.

RCGP vice-chair Dr Tina Ambury said the supporting information 'had to take the inequity of resources into account'.

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