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DH reveals efficiency drive will focus on benchmarking GP costs

New clinical commissioning groups will be expected to benchmark GPs on cost, quality and activity and identify where efficiencies can be achieved through improvements in primary care, according to new DH guidance.

A new developmental tool for emerging CCGs, designed to help them assess their readiness for authorisation prior to 2013, contains specific examples of how CCGs can achieve the ‘best outcomes for their population within the available resource'.

It comes as a leading private provider revealed it is in talks with dozens of GP commissioning groups over plans for a nationwide rollout of its own scorecard-style tool that rates GP practices on their use of hospital resources.

Suggested measures in the DH document include: ‘Benchmarking of cost, quality and activity of providers' and ‘systematic review of procedures and services that are providing little value.'

The guidance also says commissioning groups will have to identify ‘where opportunities for efficiencies lie, for example admissions that might have been avoided through improved primary care.'

It comes as out-of-hours giant Harmoni revealed an expansion of its plans to launch a new dashboard to allow commissioners to rate practices on a raft of areas, including referrals, their patients' use of out-of-hours services and discharge planning.

In addition to clinical pathway information, the Smartcare dashboard will allow commissioners to measure financial data to match what secondary care providers are charging for against what GPs refer.

The company - the largest provider of out-of-hours services in England - said it hoped to rollout the system to all eight million patients it currently covers across the country, as it moves to integrate the new system with the impending rollout of the new 111 number for urgent care.

Andrew Gardner, chief executive officer of Harmoni, told Pulse that the tool was attracting plenty of interest from fledgling commissioning groups that are keen to get a grip on referrals and financial management.

Mr Gardner said: ‘We've got a lot of interest from GP commissioning groups who are interested in getting a planning system of control into both the urgent and elective referral process. I would expect it will be rolled out at the end of this year and then be ready to implement along with 111 the following year.'