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Independents' Day

Why do league tables cause such a fuss?

I really can't see what all the fuss is about publishing the points achieved in the new GMS contract. As a potential patient myself I would certainly want to know if one local practice achieved 200 points while another achieved 1,050 ­ I have no doubts about who I'd wish to have as my GP.

Of course general practice is much wider than just the areas picked up in the quality and outcomes framework, but most of the points relate to good medical practice or good organisation and reflect good clinical governance. If I had diabetes I'd certainly like to have a kindly, empathetic GP but I'd also like him to know a little bit about diabetes and be organised enough to ensure annual checks are in place to prevent me getting heart disease, renal failure and blindness. A kindly nul pointe GP is not for me.

Some argue it will be easier for large, well-organised practices in leafy suburbs to achieve top points and publishing league tables will be unfair to smaller practices with less compliant populations. But in practice, patients have limited choice restricted by geography because of our terms of service commitment to visit and I would expect practices in similar areas to achieve similar points totals.

Where they don't, both the financial consequences of the new contract and the league tables should act as a rapid spur for the poor performer to improve. If the practice can't, then would it be a bad thing if patients voted with their feet and deserted it?

We all make well-informed consumer decisions in other areas of life such as banking, shopping, going to the theatre, choosing a restaurant. Why not in general practice?

Dr Rod Smith



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