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At the heart of general practice since 1960

RCGP warning over balanced scorecards 'postcode lottery'

By Gareth Iacobucci

The RCGP has admitted it is fighting to keep its practice accreditation scheme from being buried by rival Government initiatives.

In a debate at the RCGP conference, college leaders urged GPs to sign up to the scheme, saying otherwise practices would be more vulnerable to the ‘postcode lottery' of balanced scorecards.

Professor Nigel Sparrow, chair of the RCGP professional development board, said it was vital practices were seen to be taking the lead.

‘One of the drivers for accreditation is that many PCTs are already developing their own assessments of quality. We do not want target-driven quality agendas from PCTs, and a postcode lottery. At a local PCT level, there isn't the expertise to do that,' he said.

Last month a Pulse investigation into the first 400 practices to be assessed by balanced scorecards showed 70% received at least one red rating, with small practices and those in deprived areas most likely to struggle.

But trials of accreditation saw almost a third of the 32 practices taking part achieved 100% of the core criteria, and half scored more than 90%.

The conference was told signing up to provider accreditation would also allow GPs to meet many of the requirements needed to register with the Care Quality Commission, mandatory for GPs from 2011.

Professor Sparrow said: ‘Any practice doing accreditation can be pretty confident they'll meet the requirements of the CQC.'

Dr Stephen Campbell, who led the pilot study at the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, said researchers had found no link between practice size and achievement.

‘From this samples set, practice size was not a predictor of success,' he said.

The accreditation process is expected to take place over a two or three year period when fully rolled out.

RCGP leaders have urged GPs to back the college's accreditation scheme RCGP leaders have urged GPs to back the college's accreditation scheme

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