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Practices to be given ‘scorecard’ of clinical outcomes in further scrutiny drive

Practices will have their outcomes scrutinised with a view to providing a ‘scorecard’ around how they treat their most vulnerable patients, the health secretary will announce today.

The review – to be announced as part of Jeremy Hunt’s new deal today – will be led by Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation, with input from the CQC and NHS England.

The Health Foundation said the review would be completed this September and ‘may be used by the Government to develop a “scorecard” of indicators for each GP practice to be published on the MyNHS website’.

GP leaders warned that the CQC had already had to ditch its ‘intelligent monitoring’ scheme after problems were found with the comparative data.

The Health Foundation said the review would assess ‘if comparable indicators on the quality of primary care are sufficiently developed to be used to help practices improve quality’ and ‘whether such indicators would help patients and carers gauge the quality of care their GP practice provides’.

It said it would also look at ‘whether credible indicators are available by specific population groups and the services available to them’,  such as people over 70, people with long-term conditions, people with mental health conditions, mothers and children and people who are ‘generally well’.

Dr Dixon said: ‘Improving quality of care for patients unites all people working in healthcare. Good data on quality is the cornerstone to making improvements.

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‘We look forward to carrying out this stocktake with others, and assessing how indicators on the quality of primary care might be made better to support those in the NHS make the changes they can see are needed.’

But Dr Andrew Green, chair of the GPC’s clinical and prescribing subcommittee, said it would be difficult to extract ‘useful information’ on outcomes and highlighted the CQC’s about-turn on publishing its’ ‘intelligent monitoring’ data.

He said: ‘We have seen with CQC the trouble that organisations can get into if they approach such figures in a simplistic way.’

Dr Green said that development of ‘comparative’ data could help to make more valid comparisons between practices with fundamental underlying differences.

However, he added:  ‘We will need to ensure that the Health Foundation approaches this work with scientific rigour and a true understanding of the complexities of GP care.

‘We will need to avoid a situation where GPs feel under pressure to treat a patient in a way that is not in line with that patient’s best interests, simply to fulfil “quality” standards; were this to happen trust between the patient and the GP would be undermined, to the detriment of all.’