The government may not introduce a ‘scorecard’ for GP practice performance, as Jeremy Hunt has previously proposed, HSJ has been told.
The health secretary announced plans for the scorecard in June, alongside a major speech on a “new deal” for general practice. It was expected to be published on the MyNHS website in future.
In a published message to NHS staff, Mr Hunt said: “The new GP scorecard will help support quality improvement by providing unprecedented transparency about the quality of primary care.”
It was expected to be produced following a Health Foundation led review into quality indicators in general practice, due to report in September. The proposal for a scorecard was heavily criticised by some GPs, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs.
However, HSJ understands the terms of reference for the Health Foundation’s work, agreed with the Department of Health, make no reference to a scorecard.
Asked whether the Department of Health still planned a scorecard, as Mr Hunt had previously indicated, a spokeswoman said the government was “still very much committed to developing a metrics system, but the detail of what that’s going to contain, what that’s going to be called [and] where it will be published… is still being thought through”.
The spokeswoman said: “We haven’t changed our policy at all. The shape… that’s going to take hasn’t been decided yet. Details will be made public when they are ready.”
BMA GP committee deputy chair Richard Vautrey said: “We certainly support the idea of transparency and informing the public about the quality of care that practices are delivering.
“What we don’t think is helpful, and potentially can be completely counterproductive, is boiling that down into a simplistic score system. That can lead to unintended consequences.”
Dr Vautrey said he “supports what the Health Foundation is doing [in] trying to look at what is currently published and how it can rationalised into a more sensible, user friendly way”.
However, he warned: “Any information that is produced then needs to be contextualised. We have to understand the context of individual practices to truly understand what the indicators actually mean.”
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