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Dispense with interview nerves

Small practices are being victimised by prejudiced PCTs during quality visits, according to a survey of 160 practices.

The Small Practices Association found that a 'small but significant' number of practices felt their PCT to be dismissive and unsupportive during visits to assess performance against the quality and outcomes framework.

Practices also complained that PCT visitors also 'openly demonstrated' prejudice towards small practices.

The survey found that 6 per cent of small practices felt they got little or no support from the PCT visitors.

Dr Michael Taylor, chair of the SPA and a GP in Heywood, Lancashire, said it was clear that some PCTs had an unofficial policy to give small practices a hard time.

'In theory the quality visits are supposed to be supportive, friendly and constructive, but some PCTs take a dim view of small practices and are being very heavy-handed while visiting,' he said.

He added the NHS had failed to take action at such PCTs, despite NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp having acknowledged their behaviour.

GPC negotiator Dr Rich-ard Vautrey said quality visits must be constructive. 'Sensible PCTs will use quality visits to help and develop practices of any size rather than to criticise in an unconstructive manner,' he said.

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