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RCGP practice accreditation scheme

Accreditation will help practices to meet the CQC's registration requirements.

Dr Rodger Charlton: accreditation framework will be offered in stages (Photograph: NTI)
Dr Rodger Charlton: accreditation framework will be offered in stages (Photograph: NTI)

In the past few months the profession has thought a lot about re-licensing of individual GPs and revalidation.

But thought also needs to be given to the practice team and its performance quality.

The RCGP's practice accreditation (PA) scheme is a voluntary quality improvement scheme which was announced in October 2010 and is due to be launched early in 2011.

With so much happening so quickly in general practice, you might not feel like applying for a voluntary scheme whatever the kudos it could earn the practice.

However, we have to think about the forthcoming requirement for practices in England to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) by April 2012. The PA's first stage matches up with the 16 CQC standards applying to general practice.

Practice accreditation
PA is a process which seeks to further improve care of patients and to support practice teams to do even better. It is a process which will complement what is happening with the revalidation of individual doctors by facilitating enhanced multidisciplinary team performance and quality of care, as well as improving how care is organised.

It should facilitate continuous quality improvement and help support commissioning by GP consortia. There will be benefits to patients and staff as well as ensuring patient safety. It is hoped there will be improved patient engagement with at-risk groups.

Two-stage process
PA is an award and achieving its 'gold standard' will require a lot of effort by the practice team. It is a developmental process and involves a lot more than just ticking boxes.

It is a framework which will be offered in two stages, and if a practice is successful in gaining a PA award this will be a recognition of achievement and it will demonstrate compliance with the registration requirements of the CQC. However it does not follow that accreditated practices will be exempt from a CQC inspection visit.

The time table to complete PA is a maximum of three years. The practice will work through a secure interactive website. Stage 1 consists of 42 criteria that are of a 'pass-fail' nature and are the minimum standards required for CQC registration. In stage 2 there are 37 criteria which are aimed at team development within practice teams.

Quality Care Commission

Set up in April 2009, the CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. Providers of all NHS primary medical services, including GP practices, must be registered with the CQC from 1 April 2012.


'The new registration system will bring all providers of health and adult social care under a single set of essential standards of quality and safety for the first time', the CQC's website states (www.cqc.org.uk).


'This means that people can expect services to meet the same essential standards across the care sector that are protecting their safety and respecting their dignity and rights.'


CQC essential standards
These are set out in two pieces of legislation: the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and the Care Quality Commission Regulations 2009. For each of the standards, there is an associated outcome. These are the experiences that the CQC expects patients to have as a result of the care they receive.


When GP practices are inspected the CQC will focus on 16 of these standards - those that most directly relate to the quality and safety of care. The 16 standards are:


1. Care and welfare of people who use services.
2. Assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision.
3. Safeguarding from abuse people who use services.
4. Cleanliness and infection control.
5. Management of medicines.
6. Meeting nutritional needs.
7. Safety and suitability of premises.
8. Safety, availability and suitability of equipment.
9. Respecting and involving people who use services.
10. Consent to care and treatment.
11. Complaints.
12. Records.
13. Requirements relating to workers.
14. Staffing.
15. Supporting workers.
16. Co-operating with other providers.


Practices will need to collect evidence that these outcomes have been met.

Six domains
Both stages comprise six domains for which evidence is required to be collected:

  • Health inequalities and health promotion
  • Provider management
  • Premises, records, equipment, devices and medicines management
  • Provider teams
  • Learning organisation
  • Patient and carer, experience, involvement and responsiveness

Why apply for accreditation?
This is a chance to demonstrate excellence. In line with revalidation for the individual, it will lead to the development of a reflective organisation, one which responds to feedback and so is also a learning organisation as it constantly strives to improve.

PA is to be launched early in 2011 when it will be possible for practices and GP consortia to register an interest.

Just like most assessment processes, a fee will be required to take part. The amount has not yet been set.

If your practice is interested, check the RCCP website for updates or email the Practice Accreditation Team at practiceaccreditation@rcgp.org.uk

  • Dr Charlton is a GP principal and trainer in Solihull; and a GP appraiser and associate clinical professor at Warwick Medical School C
CPD IMPACT: More More Credits

These further action points may allow you to claim more credits.

  • Reflect on what is meant by being patient-centred and how practice accreditation is in keeping with this.
  • Of the CQC 16 essential standards, consider how a GP consortium might address 'cleanliness and infection control' which is one of the CQC's 16 essential standards.
  • Prepare a summary of PA to discuss at your next practice meeting and seek the views of the team on whether to consider registering an interest.

Record all your learning with your free online CPD Organiser

Click here to view our RCGP resource

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