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Practices perform well in accreditation pilot scheme

By Gareth Iacobucci

Most surgeries have performed well in the pilot programme for practice accreditation, with many scoring high enough marks to pass the accreditation process despite having a short time to prepare.

The DH-funded pilot - led by the RCGP and the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre - was conducted in 36 practices over 15 weeks in Haringey, Nottinghamshire, Oldham and Warwickshire PCTs.

Almost a third of participating GP practices passed 100% of the core criteria needed to gain accreditation, with half scoring more than 90%. When accreditation is launched, practices would have up to three years to gear up to meet the standards.

GPs taking part reported that the fact the process was professionally-led by the RCGP was more important than financial incentives in motivating them take part.

Providers were judged against 30 core or summative criteria, 82 developmental or formative criteria and undergoing self-assessments.

Participating practices were judged in areas including health inequalities, health promotion, provider management, premises, records, equipment and medicines management.

The scheme, which will also have to cover standards set by the Government in order to satisfy regulatory requirements of the Care Quality Commission, is expected to take place over a two or three year period when fully rolled out.

GPs have previously expressed fears that the process would see them having to jump through multiple bureaucratic hoops, but the RCGP hailed the results as evidence that GPs were now on-board with the proposals.

As well as creating ‘professional pride' among practices, the pilots were said to have demonstrated ‘excellence to patients', and led to ‘improvements in patient safety'.

Although workload was found to be ‘higher than expected', the majority of practices put this down to the tight timescale of the pilot.

RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said: ‘The pilot has been a huge success. It demonstrates that accreditation is feasible – and that it is acceptable to the profession.

‘I am particularly pleased that the pilot attracted such a positive and enthusiastic response from individual practices that were prepared to invest their time and effort.'

He added: ‘Professionally led accreditation is the way forward to further improving the quality of care provided by practices and it has the potential to satisfy the regulatory needs of the Care Quality Commission once additional work has been done to incorporate their new requirements which will be announced shortly.'

Barbara Young, chair of the Care Quality Commission said: ‘We are pleased to see the positive outcome of the pilot scheme. We look forward to continuing to work with the RCGP and partners on the further development of PCMPA as the Care Quality Commission's approach to the regulation of primary care moves forward.'

Practices have performed well in the pilot programme for practice accreditation

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