GP performance reviews in England will be partly anonymised going forward in a bid to root out bias from the process.
NHS England has also agreed to move towards a consistent system in all of its regions; and to move to close cases more swiftly.
NHS England and the BMA’s GP Committee have drawn up a joint statement agreeing four new principles, which they said will ‘direct’ professional standards teams.
- Encouraging early resolution
- Improving our consistency of approach
- Improving performance management data capture and analysis
- Ensuring equal treatment of GPs with protected characteristics
Regarding anonymisation, the statement said: ‘To help tackle bias, we will introduce anonymisation into the performance management process where appropriate.’
It added that ‘appropriate opportunities’ for anonymisation will follow ‘further discussions’ with the GPC.
Meanwhile, to address ‘variation’, NHS England will introduce a regional peer-review process that will ‘engage constructively’ with LMCs, medical defence organisations and the CQC.
LMC members should also ‘routinely be included’ in performance advisory groups, which consider the concerns about a named individual, it added.
GP investigation data collection and analysis are also set to be improved under the new commitments, including by collating data on all protected characteristics once ‘to avoid duplication of requests to GPs, according to the statement.
GPC England said the agreement would ‘support fair decision-making among everyone involved in the handling of performance concerns’.
It comes as both the GMC and the health ombudsman restarted fitness-to-practise and complaints processes last month, after pausing them due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, it was revealed that black and minority ethnic doctors are more likely to face a GMC investigation from complaints about them compared with their white counterparts.
Meanwhile, the CQC has said it will restart routine inspections of GP practices this autumn, after pausing these during the Covid-19 emergency.
A version of this story was first published by our sister title Pulse.