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Scorecards for thousands of GPs 'not accurate'

GPs have reported inaccurate data on a performance dashboard set up to scrutinise thousands of practices across a host of outcome standards.

Londonwide LMCs has urged all GPs in the capital to ensure they check their performance data on the My Health London website, after receiving reports from GPs of out-of-date information being published that under-represented practices' actual achievements.

The GP Outcome Standards were first published by NHS London last December, to allow patients and commissioners to monitor GPs on areas such as cervical screening, immunisation, disease prevalence across a range of clinical areas, A&E attendances and access.

The site, launched with the backing of Londonwide LMCs, has added five new standards this month to increase the overall number to 26, with data now available on patient outcomes around changing GP practice, cancer, mental illness and end-of-life care.

Patients can also view whether their practice offers repeat prescriptions or appointment bookings online or online access to their GP medical record.

But the site has sparked a debate over the performance management of GPs after Pulse revealed in May that some CCG leaders were pushing for the standards to be toughened up.

In a dispatch to LMCs across London, Londonwide LMCs said inaccurate data ‘has affected, and continues to affect, a number of practices', and added: ‘Londonwide LMCs advises all practices that may not yet have done so to check their data recorded on the website and inform NHS London of any inaccuracies.

‘Practices that have already raised concerns with NHS London are strongly advised to approach [them] again, stating that their concern has not as yet been satisfactorily addressed. If you wish to amend your practice data, this can be done by emailing primarycareimprovement@london.nhs.uk.

Vicky Ferlia, director of GP Support Services at Londonwide LMCs, told Pulse there had been particular problems with some of the data collected locally at PCT level.

She said: ‘Some practices reported data that had been out of date. Some of the standards come from national sources and a few, like cytology, come from local sources, which are PCT-driven. Some of the local stuff was not accurate.

Obviously, as a practice striving to achieve the best outcomes it's difficult when you see things that are not accurate. This site is available in the public arena, plus this information is available to all commissioners, so if there are any inaccuracies commissioners might take the view that they need to further investigate when it may not actually be appropriate.'

Despite the problems, Ms Ferlia said Londonwide LMCs had not withdrawn its support for the scheme but would monitor the situation closely, and urged any GPs that detected problems to report them to their PCT or NHS London, which remained ‘absolutely committed' to publishing the data.

Ms Ferlia added: ‘At the moment we need to see how it pans out and see whether the concerns that we have raised by practices come to a point where we have to do something.

‘We realise practices are extremely busy, but do check your data. If it is not right, there is a way you get it edited through NHS London, who remain absolutely committed to [the standards].'

A practice manager in Hammersmith, west London, who wished not to be named, said their practice had been affected: ‘There were quite a few things wrong and in spite of us giving the data it has not been updated. It is a lack of communication.'

NHS London said it had received a total of 67 enquiries relating to its commissioning tool. Of these, it said 34 related to the accuracy of the data requests to update outcome standards, 18 were requesting an explanation of methodology and 15 were preliminary enquiries asking how to validate data.

It also reported a further 20 enquiries relating to the Myhealthlondon.nhs.uk site, seven asking for clarification on interpretations of particular data values (resulting in a data flag applied to two practices and two practices having data adjusted), two reporting out-of-date data, three reporting missing data, three asking for explanations of methodologyand five miscellaneous queries.

A spokesperson for NHS London said: ‘The London Outcome Standards have been carefully selected and developed with professional advice from Londonwide LMCs and in collaboration with a wide range of groups, including doctors, nurses, general practice staff, NHS managers and the public.

‘One of the principles underpinning this work is that the individual outcome measures should not be looked at in isolation, but used in conjunction with others to give a holistic overview of services and trends over time.'

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