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Sign up to accreditation or face tougher regulation, GPs told

GPs are being urged to sign up to the RCGP's new accreditation scheme, or face even tougher scrutiny from the Government's new regulator.

Pulse revealed in March that, as part of RCGP-driven plans, GP practices and other primary care providers would be encouraged to participate in a voluntary scheme to assess practice standards on a range of quality indicators including some on clinical standards.

At the time RCGP chair Professor Steve Field stressed the scheme would be ‘voluntary, patient-focused, developmental and professionally led'.

But announcing that the college had completed the draft standards that will be used in the 40 practices recruited as part of pilot trials, Professor Field admitted the scheme would be used as an ‘incentive' to allow practices to avoid more onerous scrutiny from the incoming Care Quality Commission.

The college hopes the scheme, to be piloted in Haringey, Nottinghamshire County, Warwickshire and Oldham PCTs, will be endorsed by the new healthcare regulator. This will mean practices that sign up for the college's accreditation scheme will not face the regulator's minimum competence test.

‘What we want is a universal, national standard.

‘The Care Quality Commission, once it is created, will be empowered by the Health and Social Care Bill, and so will have the power to impose a standard on GP practices,' Professor Field said.

Under the plans, which are being backed by the BMA, details of practices that successfully meet the accreditation standards will be listed on the NHS Choices website once the pilot is completed at the end of the year.

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