General practice accreditation to be maintained during pandemic

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

30/03/2020 2:56:45 PM

As GPs respond to unprecedented circumstances, assessments for accreditation will be held off until the coronavirus recovery phase.

General practice building
The ACSQHC has announced assessments for general practice accreditation will be held off during the coronavirus response phase.

‘General practice is on the frontline and they don’t need to be distracted by administrative processes at this stage,’ Margaret Banks, Director at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), told newsGP.
Recognising the key role GPs play in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the Commission has announced that it will be maintaining requirements for general practices’ accreditation to the RACGP Standards during the response phase.
What this means is that general practices that are in the remediation phase of their assessment cycle and require an onsite assessment to complete the final stage of their accreditation, will not be assessed until the recovery phase commences.
‘The Commission is not trying to predict how long this will be. Once we go into the recovery phase, we will then reassess and give people notice of when assessments commence again,’ Ms Banks said.
Under usual circumstances, an accreditation cycle is three years and general practices are given one year before their scheduled assessment. The Commission assures this will also apply once the new measures cease and onsite assessments are reintroduced. The lead-time for planning and preparation of assessments will be taken into consideration.
The new measures, effective immediately as part of the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme, are intended to maximise the capacity of the health system to deliver care during this time and for assessors and the general practice workforce to comply with social distancing requirements.
Dr Emil Djakic, GP and member of the RACGP Expert Committee – Funding and Health System Reform (REC–FHSR), is an ardent supporter of the accreditation process but given the pandemic’s impact on day-to-day operations of general practices, he says the Commission’s decision is a ‘wise move’.
‘For the moment deferment is clearly important to allow us to focus on the crisis at hand, to allow us as a business to step into the role that we’re all willing to be doing and focus on the needs of our community,’ he told newsGP.
‘Hopefully beyond this space in time we can all look back and be very happy with how we were able to respond and how we were able to care for our community and our staff.’
The new measures will not change a general practice’s current eligibility for funding under the Department of Health’s Practice Incentives Program (PIP) and Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) – Practice Stream.
Meanwhile, general practices that are not currently accredited can commence the process by completing the self-assessment audit and undergo an onsite assessment at a later date.
Ms Banks emphasised the importance now more than ever that practices comply with the RACGP Standards for general practices, in particular infection prevention and control measures.
‘We’re really trying to run it [the NGPA scheme] in a way that makes it effective for general practitioners,’ Ms Banks said.
‘It means that practices can continue with their important work in meeting demand during this period without having to focus on the administrative requirements of accreditation.’
As the implementation of the changes is administrative, general practices are not required to take any further action at this time.
Further information is available on the Commission’s website or through the advice centre.

coronavirus COVID-19 general practice accreditation

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