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GPs continuing to sign up for pilot scheme

Thursday May 17, 2007

Dr Martin Daly, the well-known GP and Chairman of the IMO's GP Committee, has become the latest doctor to sign up as a volunteer for a pilot quality-improvement review scheme developed by the Medical Council and the Irish College of General Practitioners.

Dr Daly, who signed up for the scheme today at the Medical Council's offices in Dublin, became the 100th volunteer. Dr Lynda Sisson, Director of Performance in Practice in the Medical Council, welcomed Dr Daly's participation and both doctors called on other GPs to come forward to volunteer.

Dr Daly, who practices as a GP in Ballygar, Co Galway, said: "Volunteering by the profession is essential to ensure that it can shape the final programme that emerges and in this way help in the development of a model that best suits Irish medical practice. I am looking forward to participating in it. It is important that it is simple and straightforward and doesn't require a big time commitment for busy GPs. My experience of the process will be tremendously important in informing my colleagues. The competence doctors will show in this will give the profession confidence and will increase public trust. I would call on GPs across the country to participate."

The initiative involves GPs volunteering to complete an on-line self-assessment questionnaire and to also nominate 8 medical and 8 non-medical colleagues to fill out similar on-line questionnaires. In addition 25 patients will be asked to fill out a 10-minute anonymous and confidential paper based questionnaire on a specified day at the doctor's surgery.

The process gives feedback to the doctor about their practice from the people that they work closely with and from their patients. The questionnaire will cover areas such as personality, communication skills, the surgery and staff and the level of care received. Feedback is given confidentially.

Dr Sisson, said a unique feature of the Irish pilot over other international schemes is that much of the process will be completed online. "Ireland is one of the first nations to develop this online facility, designed to improve the experience for all participants," she said. "The confidential feedback report given by the process allows doctors to identify their strengths and areas for development. Research has shown that over 50 per cent of doctors who participated in such processes make changes to their practice from the constructive feedback received," Dr Sisson said. "The majority of doctors who have participated in such programmes internationally have rated the feedback as very valuable."

Already the first 22 doctors have completed the pilot programme, with another 70-plus to follow suit now. This means that over 500 patients so far have had the chance to give feedback about their GP. The Medical Council pilot follows the introduction of such quality assurance schemes for doctors in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. After an extensive review of international peer review programmes, the Medical Council decided to pilot a quality improvement initiative that has been run successfully in Alberta, Canada for the past 7 years. The aim of the pilot is to determine the suitability of the programme for the Irish context and to establish Irish norms.

A lo-call number has been established for queries from doctors or the public regarding the scheme, the number is 1850 211 530. Email queries can be sent to pip@mcirl.ie. GPs can register their interest online at www.medicalcouncil.ie. Details on the pilot are on the Medical Council website and the literature includes a patient information leaflet and a Frequently Asked Questions leaflet for doctors. The Irish Patients Association is an enthusiastic supporter of the Professional Practice Review for doctors.

Doctors who participate in the pilot will gain educational credits and will be exempt from the process again for five years. If the programme is successful, it is intended to roll it out to all doctors including hospital specialists in time.

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For further information, please contact:

Jackie Gallagher, Q4 Public Relations, 01 4751444, 087 2371838