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Questions over accreditation as RACGP holds line on standards
THE RACGP is standing firm on its accreditation standards for after hours services despite concerns practices risk losing accreditation and associated incentive payments once Medicare Locals take over the service.
Currently general practices must prove to the college that they can provide around-the- clock care – either directly or through a deputising service – to meet the accreditation standard. The standard is mandatory to receive after hours care incentive payments.
But with MLs set to take over administration of after hours care in July 2013, the AMA has warned practices will lose their ability to assure the college about their arrangements.
As well as putting their after hours payments at risk, “there is the real potential for practices to lose their accreditation status and consequently all [incentive] payments”, head of the AMA’s general practice council Dr Brian Morton wrote in the AMA’s magazine, Australian Medicine.
He called for the RACGP to downgrade the after hours component from mandatory to “desirable” in the accreditation standards to ensure practices did not lose accreditation unfairly.
Dr Mike Civil, chair of the RACGP’s committee for general practice standards, admitted the full role of MLs in after hours care was still unclear but said standards must not be softened to fit reform.
“We shouldn’t dumb down that system if Medicare Locals can’t or are not willing to look for quality of care in the after hours period,” he said.
“It’s important from a professional standpoint that we don’t lose quality of standards… and [quality in] what we provide to our patients.”
He added that any MLs that failed to fulfil their after hours obligations would be in breach of contract and practices must act accordingly.
AGPN chair Dr Emil Djakic said MLs’ involvement was unlikely to affect whether practices met the standards. MLs would never be “shopfronts” for services while “practices are expected to continue to fulfil their obligations,” he said.
James Bishop, practice manager at the Longevity Medical Centre in Doncaster, Victoria, said the standards were already “antiquated” and some practices were opting out of accreditation as incentive payments were not worth the effort.