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Your first... research project

Why not consider a qualitative study? If you are thinking of your first research project, Dr Stefan Cembrowicz has some practical advice

Why not consider a qualitative study? If you are thinking of your first research project, Dr Stefan Cembrowicz has some practical advice

GPs are demanding Heart of Birmingham Teaching PCT issue a formal apology to the practices it 'named and sham-ed' for scoring fewer than 750 quality points.

As the row rumbled on this week, GPs ordered the trust to ditch its 'aggressive' policy of targeting the eight affected practices for tougher performance checks.

The demands came as it emerged the other 11 PCTs in Birmingham and the Black Country snubbed the policy, which was drafted by the strategic health authority.

Dr Nick Plant, PEC chair of Dudley South PCT, said the QOF was not to be used to 'hit people over the head if they have not done very well.'

Other health authorities contacted by Pulse also said they had no similar guidelines or plans to introduce them.

In a letter to the PCT, Dr Philip Hamilton, chair of Birmingham LMC's locality committee for the trust, said an apology was necessary, but that 'a great deal of damage has already been done'.

However, the PCT has so far been unrepentant, arguing that GPs never had the right to 'light touch' monitoring of their quality performance.

Dr Vidhu Mayor, chief officer of the PCT and a GP in Birmingham, said: 'This is not a privilege that can be taken away as it has not previously existed. Rather, we have rewarded practices scoring above 920 points with lighter monitoring.'

Dr Mohammad Salim, one of the GPs named, reported the trust had carried out an 'in-depth' visit to his practice last Wednesday.

This came despite managers having told him he would not require such a visit because a computer error meant he had scored 760.8 points, not the 619 figure the PCT had cited.

Dr Salim said he was disappointed with the aggressive approach. He said: 'I don't have anything to hide and I'm not scared of them, but nobody has listened to me.'

Dr Andrew Thompson, whose practice was also nam-ed, also criticised the PCT's policy.

However, one of the GPs affected defended the PCT's actions.

Dr Venkatarama Subramanian said the PCT had not 'looked down on the surgery' and had been helpful. He said: 'Their help to practices has been totally misunderstood and misrepresented.'

Dr Charles Zuckerman, joint executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, said other PCTs in the area had 'used their discretion and common-sense' in ignoring the health authority policy.

He said: 'Guidance issued by the Department of Health clearly states that QOF scores are not to be the sole means by which doctors are subjected to performance reviews.'

By Daile Pepper

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