The government's Vision for Primary and Community Care report, published yesterday (3 July 2008), includes the introduction of a national GP practice accreditation scheme by 2010.
The scheme, described as "a spur to continuous improvement" in the report document released as part of Lord Darzi's Next Stage Review, will involve a "rigorous assessment of the systems used by GP practices to ensure safety and quality of practice."
The Department of Health (DH) is supporting the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to develop the accreditation scheme.
The DH document states: "As well as assess compliance with minimum criteria, it [the scheme] will pinpoint areas where practices have most scope to improve quality".
The announcement was welcomed by Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of leading healthcare thinktank The King's Fund, who said: "Moving standards of the quality of practice management out of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) and into an accreditation scheme is a sensible move.
"It will strengthen incentives within QOF that relate to health outcomes and disease management. It may also mean that smaller practices may need to co-ordinate or merge their management functions with others in order to obtain accreditation."