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Independents' Day

Row over surgeries star-rating plans

The BMA is at loggerheads with the RCGP over plans for a

Michelin-style star rating scheme for practices.

The college is in talks with the Government over a mandatory three-star at-a-glance guide grading quality of services delivered. It would encompass QOF scores, implementation of NICE guidelines and NSFs and statutory requirements such as health and safety.

Media reports suggested GPs would also have to pass tests on opening hours, telephone answering and flexible booking.

Practices would be assessed over two days by a nurse, a doctor, practice manager and patient representative.

Dr Mayur Lakhani, chair of the RCGP, insisted the rating system would 'improve standards and give practices protection'. He said: 'We do not want to increase the burden of inspection. It's not league tables, it's not a licensing process. But the expectation is that over time every practice would be obliged to do this.'

The BMA accused the RCGP of 'reinventing the wheel'. Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said the quality framework had already provided a 'valid and reliable measure' of performance.

'The Government only recently abandoned the star rating system for hospitals. It seems strange they are now considering a scheme for GP surgeries.'

Star guide

* Most practices capable of achieving; assessed every two years

** 'Higher' standards in line with training practices ­ measured three-yearly

*** 'Excellence' in line with standard of RCGP Quality Practice Award ­ assessed every five years

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