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RCGP chair defends plans to link practice accreditation with CQC registration

Exclusive The RCGP has defended its plans to align their practice accreditation scheme with CQC registration, after the GPC vowed to ‘strenuously oppose' any pressure for GPs to join the scheme.

In June, the RCGP announced it would amend its quality requirements for practice accreditation to bring them in line with those that required for CQC registration.

But last month, GPC criticised the plans saying any attempt to use practice accreditation to 'rubber stamp' CQC registration was the scheme was an 'unacceptable shift of the burden and cost of administering registration away from the CQC and directly on to GPs.'

Practice accreditation is currently voluntary for GPs, but the GPC said it feared aligning practice accreditation with CQC registration could pressurise GPs into using the RCGP scheme and place a huge administrative burden on practices.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said: ‘Practice accreditation absolutely has to remain voluntary for GPs.'

'The point is that most of us aspire to practise as well as we can and practice accreditation is costly at a time when many GPs have not taken a pay rise for five years and a lot of practices have had no increase in turnover for five years.'

'You pay the £2,000 fee to the RCGP but that does not include the cost to GPs and their time in completing the scheme. It should not be mandatory for GPs.'

It costs £2,000 to register onto the practice accreditation scheme, and since last December, 134 practices have paid, with 87 of them actively using the practice accreditation web tool.

Speaking to Pulse, RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada defended the college's plans, saying practice accreditation offers GPs a simple way of assembling the evidence necessary for CQC registration.

She said: ‘Practice accreditation is a voluntary quality programme designed to recognise high quality standards without being unduly expensive or bureaucratic.'

‘By undertaking practice accreditation, practices will have a straightforward and streamlined way of assembling much of the evidence that they will need for their CQC registration. The revised timetable for introducing registration for GP practices will enable both parties to see how effectively this will work and identify any scope for closer working.'

An RCGP spokesperson said: ‘We have already had a great deal of enthusiasm expressed for the scheme in advance of a formal marketing campaign.'

What the GPC says about practice accreditation

''The RCGP scheme is a marker of high quality and therefore extremely expensive and burdensome to practices, whereas the CQC's requirements should be at the minimum level that any patient can expect of a practice.'

'The RCGP scheme is also meant to be voluntary, and we are concerned that linking the two processes will put pressure on practices to participate. If practice accreditation is used as a mechanism to allow "rubber stamping" of CQC registration, this will represent an inappropriate and unacceptable shift of the burden and cost of administering registration away from the CQC and directly on to general practitioners. We will strenuously oppose any alignment of the two schemes, particularly if it leads to an increase in the CQC registration requirements to those used in the voluntary RCGP scheme.'

Click here to read the full GPC response