New plans being considered by the health regulator could see GP practices judged on the death rates of patients in their area.
Surgeries will have their risk profiles examined by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), in order to highlight any potential issues that may require investigation.
For example, practices with above average death rates from heart disease could be questioned on how they help patients control the risk, and whether people are called back for follow-up appointments.
Data including patient survey scores and comments made about practices via the NHS Choices website may also be used by the CQC.
The Shipman Inquiry criticised the lack of monitoring of some aspects of GP care, including the death rates in a given area.
Regulations brought in following the inquiry mean all GP practices must register with the CQC by 1 April 2012.
CQC measurement policy manager Dr Alex Mears told Pulse: “Our development work is focused on exploring potential data sources for inclusion in a quality risk profile.
“Among those under consideration are the Quality and Outcomes Framework, hospital episode statistics, the GP patient survey and the primary care mortality database.
“We’re also able to present qualitative information alongside quantitative datasets, and are looking at sources such as patients’ comments from NHS Choices.”
Dr Mears said profiles would only be “a prompt to help our inspectors make decisions about regulatory involvement”.
Practices could be flagged as green for low risk and red for high, as with primary care trusts and NHS trusts, he added.
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