GPs hit out at new way of ranking doctors’ surgeries

Doctors say a new way of measuring surgeries' performance is flawed
Doctors say a new way of measuring surgeries' performance is flawed

GP practice rated Good again after inspection

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DOCTORS say a new way of measuring surgeries’ performance is flawed.

The Care Quality Commission has started ranking surgeries in a new way.

It looks at 38 areas of health and look at whether in those areas patients are ‘at risk’ or ‘at elevated risk’ compared to people at other surgeries.

This is then translated into a percentage, and after that the surgeries are put into one of six bands.

Those with the lowest percentage scores – those in band one – will be inspected by the CQC first.

But some doctors say this is overly simplistic, and is not fair on some practices.

Dr Nigel Watson is chief executive of the Wessex Local Medical Committee, which looks after practices in south-east Hampshire.

He said: ‘The CQC said it wasn’t ranking the practices, but by putting them into bands that’s exactly what it has done.

‘We want to work with the CQC and have transparency, but this is was not a fair way to do it.

‘The University Practice in Portsmouth was being measured on diagnosis of heart disease and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, even though many of its patients will be aged under 30.’

The British Medical Association is also unhappy.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the GP committee, said: ‘New inspection arrangements for GP practices are likely to leave patients confused.

‘The CQC announced measuring GPs against 38 chosen targets that penalised GP practices if they don’t hold a specific number of health care meetings and enter specific data on their computers. This skewed and limited information does not tell us about the quality of care patients receive, and even the CQC itself has said that they are not a “judgment” on the practice.

‘Neither is there any context about the circumstances it operates in, such as the levels of deprivation in its community or its level of funding.

‘All this is bizarrely being put on the web before CQC inspectors have even walked through the practice door.

‘These simplistic targets take no account the enormous pressures GP practices are under from falling funding, rising patient demand, a shortage of GPs and GP practice buildings that haven’t had any investment in decades.’

Nationally the average score of GP practices in the top four bands – six to three – is 78 per cent.

In Portsmouth, that figure is 87.5 per cent, in Fareham and Gosport (F&G) it’s 90.5 per cent and in South Eastern Hampshire (SEH) it’s 96.2 per cent.

In Portsmouth 17 out of 24 practices fall into the band six, in F&G 12 out of 21, and in SEH it’s 21 out of 26.