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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Star rating system for GPs ruled out by NHS watchdog

The Healthcare Commission has categorically ruled out any form of 'star rating' system for GP practices.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the commission, said neither patients nor the commission itself wanted a simplistic rating system for practices.

Her comments are the final nail in the coffin for the RCGP's controversial proposals for a three-tier rating system, liken-ed to the 'Michelin star' scheme, which have provoked uproar among GPs.

Ms Walker told Pulse: 'I don't think you need the star system. What the public really wants is assurance common standards are going to be met.'

The Department of Health's Our Health, Our Care, Our Say White Paper charged the Healthcare Commission with expanding its quality assessment regime to include GP practices.

The department said it would work with the commission, the RCGP and others to develop assessment systems. But the commission's objection to the ratings plan seems certain to kill that idea off.

Ms Walker said patients would only want to know the criteria an assessment scheme covered and to be assured that where problems were uncovered, these were being pursued.

Her comments came as GPs at the LMCs conference lambasted the RCGP and its chair of council, Professor Mayur Lakhani. GPs said the rating system plans had damaged the credibility of the college, the profession and Dr Lakhani himself.

Dr Andrew Green, a GP in Hull, said he could not believe the RCGP had come up with the idea. He said he assumed it had come from 'someone who had not got the faintest idea about general practice, such as Patricia Hewitt'.

Professor Lakhani last week wrote to RCGP members to apologise for the concern the revelations had caused. But he denied mentioning star ratings at any stage.

Professor Lakhani insisted the proposals were for a voluntary scheme based on the RCGP's Quality Team Development scheme and the Quality Practice Award. He wrote: 'Unfortunately the different versions of the scheme were portrayed as star ratings in the media.'

The Quality Team Development scheme has two levels of achievement. The Quality Practice Award indicates an even higher level.

hcrump@cmpi.biz

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