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Hutton plans league tables of GP quality

Health minister John Hutton has paved the way for league tables of GP performance after declaring patients 'are entitled' to know how many quality points their practice is scoring.

Mr Hutton said the results should be published under the Freedom of Information Act. He added practices scoring 200 points or less should be reported to the Commission for Health Improvement.

A Department of Health source said results tables might be included in primary care organisation patient prospectuses.

The decision rides rough-shod over GMS contract negotiations, which agreed the quality framework would be voluntary and practices' performance would not be published.

NHS Confederation lead negotiator Mike Farrar last week confirmed the confederation had not agreed GPs' quality performance should be available to patients.

Mr Hutton told the National Association of Primary Care conference in Leeds publishing quality scores 'needs to be done'. He said: 'I think that's the kind of information patients are entitled to receive.

'GPs will start with different points and there needs to be some candour and honesty about that.'

GPs said publishing quality scores would put pressure on struggling practices and lead better-performing practices to cherry-pick patients to increase their quality pay.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the Government had to sort out IT and other funding issues before 'talking about league tables and reporting practices to CHI'.

Dr Grant Ingrams, secretary of West Midlands regional LMC, said the move would

ignore historic under-resourcing, recruitment problems and deprivation.

Dr Will Haynes, a PMS GP in Gloucester, told Mr Hutton high-scoring practices would be swamped with patients: 'If you as a patient can go to the practice with 1,000 points you will go to the better practice.'

The department source said it had not worked out whether GPs' overall score or their marks in each disease area would be published.

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