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RCGP will not co-operate with DH advisors unless plans for scorecard are dropped

Exclusive The RCGP has said it will refuse to co-operate with Government advisors tasked with drafting new ‘quality measures’ for general practice, unless the DH withdraws plans to use the data for a ‘GP scorecard’.

In a letter to NHS staff sent out last week, health secretary Jeremy Hunt elaborated on plans he announced in the ‘new deal’ for a review of GP quality measures, saying that a ‘new GP scorecard will help support quality improvement by providing unprecedented transparency about the quality of primary care’.

Health Foundation CEO Dr Jennifer Dixon, who is leading the review, to be completed in September, has said that she will discuss the review with the RCGP and BMA.

But the college has said it will not co-operate with the Health Foundation if the review will be used to develop a scorecard due to fears over ‘performance management’ of GPs – although the GPC has said it would co-operate to ensure the review doesn’t come up with a ‘simplistic’ scorecard.

RCGP chair Professor Maureen Baker told Pulse: ‘Our worry is that a “GP scorecard” will not give a meaningful picture of the quality of care provided in general practice. There is also a risk that a scorecard might be used to “performance manage” GP practices and result in undeserved criticism of family doctors at a time when GPs and our teams are under intense pressure.’

She added: ‘Subject to sight of the final terms of reference of this review, the college would be keen to be involved in any work that aims to genuinely improve our patients’ health outcomes and the quality of the service we provide. However, we will not be participating in any review that could lead to the development of a “GP scorecard”.’

The GPC also told Pulse it wanted the Health Foundation to confirm that the work would not be used for that purpose, and expressed scepticism in light of the CQC’s botched ‘intelligent monitoring’ scheme, which was dropped after multiple inaccuracies were found in the comparative data.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ‘The last thing we need is to replace one failed and flawed system that was intelligent monitoring with another one but I don’t believe that is the Health Foundation’s intention.’

He added: ‘I’m sure the Health Foundation will not want to undermine their credibility in producing a flawed and simplistic scorecard system that did not have the support of the profession, and we’ll work with them to ensure they don’t fall in to that trap.’

The Health Foundation said in a press release following the ‘new deal’ that the review will look at ‘whether such indicators would help patients and carers gauge the quality of care their GP practice provides’ and that the results of the review – due in September – ‘may be used may be used by the Government to develop a “scorecard” of indicators for each GP practice to be published on the MyNHS website’.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to making the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world and getting the best outcomes for every patient – having robust information on our performance is key to achieving this.

‘Every other part of the health service and the social care sector has signed up to transparency – GPs should embrace this as an opportunity to learn from one another to further improve the care they give their patients.’

Please note: This story was changed at 17:59 to make explicit that the Health Foundation is not developing a scorecard, but the basis on which the DH may develop one.