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Pilot aims to end sicknote burden

Primary care organisations are planning to use visits to check GPs' quality framework performance into exhaustive investigations of practices.

GPs warned some PCOs were talking as if the visits were 'a witch-hunt' to root out poor performance.

The caution came after the Government's clinical director for primary care contracting, Dr Mo Dewji, encouraged PCOs to use the quality visits for wider checks on areas such as clinical governance, prescribing and organisation.

Birmingham LMC medical secretary Dr Charles Zuckerman said he could see 'major problems brewing' as some trusts planned to make 'serious in-depth inquiries'.

He added: 'Doctors who are being trained as assessors have told us some PCOs intend not just to look at the quality framework data but also look at all sorts of things not concerned with quality.

'When they said "high trust low bureaucracy" they got the words right but not the order – this is ''low trust high bur-eaucracy''.'

The GPC said it had heard some managers 'were talking as if it's a witch-hunt'. GPC deputy-chair Dr Laurence Buckman said any overzealous checks would warrant LMC intervention. 'We would be delighted to bring their behaviour before ministers,' he added.

GPs said including other aspects in the visits would make them too onerous and 'dangerously disruptive' for practices. GPs already face a huge workload to prepare.

Dr Dewji, a GP in Milton Keynes, denied the visits would become 'witch-hunts and insisted wider checks should be supportive and only occur with GP agreement.

What to expect

from Q&O visit

All practices should have been told visit dates by July 31. They take place between October and January. A month before, the practice has to submit:

lThe latest QMAS achievement report.

lUp to 63 separate items of written evidence for the non-clinical indicators.

lInformation on levels of exception reporting.

Each practice should nominate a lead person to liaise with their PCO over the visit. Visits are meant to minimise disruption to the practice and should be 'high trust, light touch'.

By Nerys Hairon

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