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GPSIs face assessment every three years

GPSIs will be assessed every three years under onerous new standards unveiled last week by the Department of Health.

GPSIs must be accredited by March 2009 or their PCT contracts will be cancelled. They may have to do extra training courses or undertake supervised clinics under the new competency standards, which some GPs have already condemned as unworkable.Support of 'an appropriate specialist' and details of supervised clinical work will also be required for those seeking a GPSI title and role.GPs will also have to say how much time they devote to their specialism, because the department is concerned some may drift too far from general work and lose key generalist skills.The RCGP has backed the scheme, with its chair, Professor Mayur Lakhani, saying: 'The RCGP has long called for a system of standard-setting and accreditation and this will help patient care and support PCTs and practitioners.'The college said there were currently about 1,750 GPSIs. It is working on about 20 sets of competencies for individual specialisms.PCTs will run accreditation schemes and hold lists of approved GPSIs, who will lose their titles if their competency levels slide. Inspecting each GPSI six months after accreditation is also recommended.A PCT panel of at least four members will rule on accreditation. Panels must include an LMC member, a senior clinician, a senior commissioner and a lay person. But there are concerns among some GPs over the department's insistence there will be 'no new resources available to support accreditation'.Dr Jonathan Botting, a GPSI in minor surgery from Barnes, London, said: 'If the accreditation proves relevant, achievable and funded it could be a very good thing. But if GPs have to jump through lots of hoops to achieve it then it will be bad.'Some GPs are deeply unimpressed by the plans. Dr Peter Fellows, GPC member and a GP in Lydney, Gloucestershire, said: 'All this will make it nearly impossible to become a GPSI.' But he admitted some consultants complain about poor-quality GPSI care. Dr David Colin-Thome, the Government's primary care tsar, told Pulse: 'From the inception of GPSIs in 2002, we said there should be local accreditation – but it was clear many GPs had been appointed to these positions without accreditation. We were concerned by that.'

New GPSI checklist

• Professional qualification• Supervised clinics• Support of 'appropriate specialist'• Assessment of individual GPSI service• Three-year rolling assessment• Approval of PCT panel• GPSIs expected to keep a 'portfolio of evidence' detailing courses and conferences attended Source: Department of Health

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