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No star turn from RCGP

It has been a farcical week for the RCGP. First the college floated the idea of a system for accrediting practices, then it was forced into an embarrassing U-turn ­ forced to deny, deny, deny that it had ever meant star ratings.

For the college's chair, Professor Mayur Lakhani, it was a personal humiliation, as his own enthusiasm for a rating scheme failed to find support elsewhere in his organisation. Not that this should have been a surprise to him.

To attempt to introduce a surgery ratings scheme into general practice was always going be a risky and unpopular move, whether based on stars, achievement levels or sausages. The prospect of patients making judgments about practices on the basis of crude measures of performance is unpalatable to most GPs. Even more repellent is the idea that such a scheme should be obligatory.

Public relations disaster

For the RCGP leadership not to have realised this only adds to the impression of an organisation out of touch with grassroots GPs, too busy navel-gazing in its ivory towers to notice what's going on down on the ground.

And that impression is only compounded by the public relations disaster of the college's subsequent climbdown, which revealed it to be dangerously naive about the way the media works.

Professor Lakhani may have survived calls for his resignation this week, but the events of the last few days have put a massive question-mark over his leadership.

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