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GPSIs to undergo tough new system of accreditation

DoH moves to stop 'every Tom, Dick and Harry calling himself a GPSI'

A stringent national accreditation system for GPs with special interests is to be introduced in the autumn, Pulse can reveal.

Under the system being developed by the Department of Health and the RCGP, all GPSIs will have to assemble a detailed portfolio of evidence and references to prove their skills are up to scratch.

Existing GPSI will have to gain accreditation in the first year of the new system. Re-

accreditation will be necessary every three years.

Local panels, including clinical governance leads and education leads and specialists for the specific disciplines, will be responsible for checking evidence and policing the system.

Dr Matt Walsh, the department's lead for the accreditation programme, said qualifications would be only part of the portfolio criteria. He said: 'We want to see the processes people use, we want descriptions of their experience, and references from senior mentoring consultants if their work involves a secondary care pathway.

'This will involve more than "I did a course in 1987" – we want evidence of clinical governance arrangements and audits, which can be assessed and show quality improvement during re-accreditation three years later.'

Dr Walsh, a GP in Bradford, said the framework would end the 'wide variations' in what GPSIs do. Policing of GPSI services was 'far too light' in some areas, he added.

Successful accreditation will be based on the service, as well as the practitioner providing it. The standard of the GPSI's clinical team and working environment will also be assessed.

Research by the University of Southampton last year found wide variations in the qualifications and amount of training GPSIs had prior to taking up their positions.

Other studies have also cast doubt on the cost-effectiveness of GPSIs.

GPs welcomed the decision to introduce accreditation.

Dr Gerald Partridge, a GP in Keighley, West Yorkshire, who is studying for a diploma in cardiology, said the requirements were fair and necessary for ensuring high standards.

GPSI trainer Professor Ram Dhillon, consultant ENT surgeon at Northwick Park Hospital, London, said: 'There has to be something, particularly with practice-based commissioning coming in, or every Tom, Dick and Harry will be calling himself a GPSI.'

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