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McKinsey draws up GP ratings 'scorecard' for DH

By Steve Nowottny

The Department of Health has hired external management consultants to draw up a new assessment system to be used for GPs across the country.

International consultancy firm McKinsey has been paid an undisclosed fee to help draw up a model balanced scorecard to be used by PCTs.

Consultants from the firm will devise a series of indicators trusts can use to assess practice performance, as part of the Government's drive to improve PCT commissioning and kick-start the primary care market.

Pulse understands PCTs will get access to the so-called Primary Care Commissioning Support Application in the next few months, for the first time bringing together information on areas such as patient experience, prescribing, referrals and premises.

McKinsey has been asked to help draw together existing information to develop 85 different quality indicators. PCTs will also be able to add their own extra information about their GPs' performance.

It follows the publication in January of the Improving GP Services guidance document, which called on all PCTs to draw up and publish balanced scorecards with a range of indicators.

But GPC leaders have responded angrily to the plans, which were discussed at a recent meeting of the DH's clinical advisory group, which draws together senior figures from across the profession.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The indicators that McKinsey and others are proposing use information that's already available. Just because something can be measured doesn't necessarily mean it's a useful tool as an indicator.

‘Balanced scorecards are of extremely limited value but the DH seems to be obsessed by them.'

He added that bringing in external consultants to draw up indicators was unnecessary.

‘It's one more example of the amount of money the DH is spending on management consultancies at a time when the NHS is likely to see financial cutbacks,' he said. ‘It needs to look closely at its use of external companies and ask whether it is truly getting value for money.'

His criticism came as figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the NHS spent £350m on external management consultants in the past financial year – £273m of which was not directly related to patient care.

The Royal College of Nursing, which uncovered the figures, said they were ‘utterly shocking when you consider the difference that this money could have made to patients'.

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