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RCGP’s quality scheme written into PMS contracts

PCTs are signing up dozens of practices to the 'expensive and burdensome' RCGP accreditation scheme, with one area planning to write a requirement to complete accreditation into PMS contracts.

Leaders of the RCGP's practice accreditation scheme told the college's conference almost 200 practices were now signed up to the scheme, after three PCTs recently committed 'significant numbers of practices' to completing practice accreditation, which normally costs £2,000 per practice, or the college's linked quality practice award (QPA), which costs £3,900.

Professor Nigel Sparrow, a GP in Nottingham and chair of the RCGP's professional development board, told Pulse NHS East Lancashire was offering to fund the scheme for all 68 practices in the area but, in a controversial move, was also set to force PMS GPs to complete practice accreditation or the QPA.

'We've had three PCTs commit to signing up significant numbers of practices,' Professor Sparrow said.

'In East Lancashire they have signed up 68 practices to do QPA or accreditation. The PCT is paying for it. The PCT has told PMS contractors: this is part of your contract and you will do one of these awards.'

The controversial plan to write the RCGP schemes into PMS contracts comes despite warnings from the GPC that practice accreditation 'absolutely has to remain voluntary for GPs' because of the burden it places on GP time and resources. In a consultation on Care Quality Commission registration earlier this year, the GPC fiercely opposed plans to link registration to the RCGP scheme, warning that practice accreditation was 'extremely expensive and burdensome'.

Professor Sparrow said he recognised concerns over linking CQC registration to the RCGP scheme, and said PCTs signing practices up to practice accreditation should not impose requirements: 'I would hope it all wasn't compulsory, but would be something practices work towards.'

NHS East Lancashire said it had secured funding for practices completing the QPA or practice accreditation scheme. A spokesperson for the PCT said it was working with 'PMS practices in East Lancashire to develop a mutually-agreed PMS contract that will include undertaking the RCGP's QPA.'