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Quality accounts ‘delayed until 2012’

By Laura Passi

The deadline for GPs to produce quality accounts has been put back a year, after a DH evaluation found they will struggle to produce them without guidance from NHS managers.

The delay came after evaluation of the quality accounts for 2009/10 - from pilot GP practices in NHS East Midlands and NHS North East - found a wide variation in the quality and format of the accounts, and that many GP practices struggled to produce a quality account without ‘needing much assistance from PCTs and SHAs.'

The evaluation also highlighted that the process needed to be streamlined in order to relieve small providers of ‘an undue burden.'

GP practices were expected to be required to publish quality accounts from April 2011 - detailing clinical outcomes and patient experience data - but the report reveals this will not be a statutory requirement until 2012, to iron out problems identified in the pilot scheme.

The report said: ‘The quality accounts published this year have varied widely in the way in which providers have reported the quality of their services. The quality of the explanation of an organisation's services has also been highly variable.

And added: ‘Primary organisations will be encouraged to produce quality accounts in June 2011 covering the period of 2010/11, but this will not be a statutory requirement.'

Quality accounts will be made publicly available and league tables compiled, but Pulse revealed earlier this year that the annual cost of the quality accounts to GP practices has been estimated by the Department of Health at between £14,000 to £22,000.

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