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'Fraught' quality visits lie ahead

Animosity and tension could taint practices' annual quality framework review visits as conflicts between GPs and their PCTs bubble over, warns Government-commissioned guidance, writes Cato Pedder.

Exception reporting is highlighted as an area where disputes are particularly likely – even in areas with otherwise harmonious GP-PCT relationships.

The report, which forms the basis of official guidance released last week, warned of the dangers of 'misaligned expectations', with quality targets mandatory for PCTs as they chase star ratings – but optional for GPs.

Every practice in the country will have a review visit between October and January each year, at which PCTs will verify practices' claims for quality pay.

The guidance, compiled by researchers at the University of Sheffield, said the visits could result in 'over-sensitivity, truculence, obstructiveness and other manifestations of disaffection'. Walking away from the process was not an option since GPs would lose their chance to claim for payments.

David Martin, co-author of the report, said he did not think conflict would be common, except in areas where existing relationships between PCTs, GPs and LMCs were bad.

l'Go softly-softly', page 2

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