Accreditation – Responding to extraordinary circumstances arising from COVID-19 pandemic

Announcement from the Commission

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency requiring an extraordinary response by the health system and society. Social distancing is a key measure being utilised to limit transmission of COVID-19. This measure is aimed at reducing transmission of the disease in the community, and importantly, the demand on healthcare services.

To assist general practices and in line with social distancing measures, the Commission is maintaining requirements for accreditation to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for general practices, effective immediately. These changes are being enacted as part of the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme.

  1. The accreditation status of general practices will be maintained during the response phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. These arrangements will be monitored with changes anticipated in the recovery phase of the pandemic.
  2. General practices that have completed an onsite assessment and are in the remediation phase of their assessment cycle, and require an onsite assessment to complete the final assessment, will not be assessed until the recovery phase commences.
  3. Reintroduction of onsite assessments will take into consideration the lead-time for planning and preparation of assessments.

The intent of these measures is to maximise the capacity of the health system to deliver care during a period of unprecedented demand, and for assessors and the general practice workforce to comply with social distancing requirements. As the implementation of the changes is administrative, general practices are not required to take any further action at this time.

While the Commission recognises the unprecedented impacts on the day-to-day operations of general practices, it is more important than ever that general practices comply with the RACGP Standards for general practices, in particular infection prevention and control measures.

Further explanatory information is available on the Commission’s website or via the Advice Centre.  Please email your query to accreditation@safetyandquality.gov.au and include your contact number.  A member of the Advice Centre will then contact you as soon as practical.

FAQs:

What does maintaining accreditation mean for my practice?

Under usual circumstances, an accreditation cycle is three years.  The extraordinary measures enacted suspends the current accreditation status of a general practice, which will be maintained until the recovery phase of the pandemic begins and these measures are ceased.  For example, a general practice that would normally have one year before its scheduled assessment, will have one year before its next assessment from the time these measures are ceased.

When do these measures commence?

Immediately. As the implementation of the changes is administrative, general practices are not required to take any further action at this time.

Do efforts to implement the RACGP Standards for general practices (5th edition) cease?

No. General practices will be relying on their safety and quality systems to ensure patient care is safe and of good quality.  All general practices are expected to ensure safety and quality systems are being used, monitored and address any breeches in practice.

Can my practice continue to access Practice Incentives Program (PIP) and Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) – Practice Stream funding?

Yes. Introducing these 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.

The Commission’s process for reviewing gaps in accreditation will still be accessible for general practices where the gap has occurred prior to the release of this announcement. General practices that are currently accredited, will have their accreditation continue until these measures are cease in the recovery phase.

General practices that are not currently accredited, and wish to become accredited, can commence the accreditation process by completing the self-assessment audit but will not undergo an onsite assessment until the recovery phase.

My practice has had its onsite assessment, can it be finalised?

General Practice that have completed an onsite assessment, are in the remediation phase of their assessment cycle and require an onsite assessment cannot be finalised.

General practices can finalise their assessment if they have completed an onsite assessment and are able to finalise their assessment as a review of documentation.