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GPs face new scrutiny of their diabetes care

By Joanna

Clarke-Jones

GPs are to face unprecedented scrutiny from a new Government audit that aims to ensure they are providing satisfactory care to every diabetic patient on their list.

Every practice in England will be expected to submit annual data so the Commission for Health Improvement can assess their progress against targets set out in the diabetes national service framework.

CHI said the audit ­ to be launched in April and rolled-out nationwide by the end of the year ­ would run independently from the quality and outcomes framework because it has 'a different purpose'. A spokesman said: 'We look at quality whereas the framework looks at [GP] pay.'

But Dr Gillian Braunold, a GPC member who sits on the Government committee overseeing implementation of the diabetes NSF, predicted many GPs would boycott the audit.

'Aren't we already doing enough to provide diabetes data?' said Dr Braunold, a GP in north London.

'Our priorities are around implementing the new contract, which has an enormous amount on diabetes. I cannot believe someone has constructed an entirely separate audit. GPs are already extremely overwhelmed.'

In its first year the audit will collect primary and secondary care data in an attempt to establish whether everyone with a diabetes diagnosis is recorded on a GP practice disease register and to assess the annual rate of complications such as stroke and amputation.

In subsequent years GPs will be asked to provide more detailed data showing their performance in meeting HbA1c, cholesterol, blood pressure and other targets.

CHI guidelines to be sent to GPs shortly will insist that, as long as GPs keep high-quality electronic records, the audit should mean 'no pain and immediate gain'.

A spokesman said GPs would get computer reports showing how their performance compared with others in their PCT, but there were no plans to force GPs to provide data if they failed to do so.

RCGP vice-chair Dr Tina Ambury, also a member of the the diabetes NSF implementation group, said she supported the audit as long as 'GPs don't end up carrying the can when it may be that targets in the NSF are not achievable ­ I would be disappointed if this leads to extra work at a phenomenally busy time'.

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