The National General Practice Accreditation Scheme

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) administers the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme, which supports the consistent assessment of Australian general practices against the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for general practices.

Planning for recommencement of Assessments under the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme

Announcement from the Commission

Resumption of onsite assessments to the RACGP Standards for general practices will occur from 26 October 2020. This follows the period from 25 March 2020 where the requirements for accreditation in general practices were maintained and no assessments were commenced.

As the reintroduction of onsite assessments will take into consideration the lead-time for planning and preparation of assessments, all general practices will have an additional 12 months added to their current certificate expiration date.

The Commission has identified criteria for determining which general practices should be assessed first and those that will be assessed during subsequent rounds. On-site assessment will be based upon a risk based approach and will only take place in settings where there is a low risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Answers to frequently asked questions are below.

For further enquiries please email: accreditation@safetyandquality.gov.au

FAQs - Assessments under the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme in general practices with a low risk for COVID-19 transmission

When will assessments of general practices resume?

From 26 October 2020, assessments can resume for general practices with a low risk of COVID-19 transmission. Assessments will not be conducted in general practices where there are active COVID-19 clusters or state or territory restrictions or lockdowns. Restrictions on border crossings will also be taken into consideration.

Your accrediting agency will work with you, the Commission and the relevant health department to confirm your general practice’s risk status, and schedule the next assessment.

How do I know when my next assessment should be?

Accredited general practices will have 12 months added to their current accreditation expiry date. This means whatever month and year your current accreditation is due to expire, it will now expire in that month, one year later.

Your assessment should be scheduled with your accrediting agency to commence at least four months before your revised accreditation expires.

How do I know if my general practice is considered low risk?

A general practice is low risk if it meets four or more of the following criteria:

  • Is not treating patients with active COVID-19 except by telehealth consultation
  • Is not treating overseas or interstate travellers during their quarantine period except by telehealth consultation
  • Does not have (or does not suspect they have) a member of the workforce with COVID-19 which could have been transmitted to others in the general practice
  • There is limited impact on the normal workforce being available for duty. Members of the workforce are not:
    • In isolation due to possible or confirmed COVID-19 contact
    • Redeployed to support COVID-19 related activities
  • The general practice is not directly affected by:
    • A public order that has resulted in a lockdown or restriction of movement of citizens
    • Known active COVID-19 infections in the area
  • The general practice is not supporting an aged care facility with active COVID-19 infections.

What happens if my general practice is not low risk?

A general practice that is not low risk of transmission of COVID-19, according to this definition, will have their accreditation status maintained. Their assessment will not be scheduled until the practice is considered low risk.

When will my general practice be assessed?

When scheduling assessments, the Commission has asked accrediting agencies to prioritise general practices that:

  • Have completed an initial assessment and are in the remediation period to address mandatory indicators that were not met. These practices have up to 90 days (65 business days), regardless of the maintenance period, to finalise the assessment. As of 25 March 2020, the number of days remaining in the remediation period for a practice will be added from 26 October 2020
  • Were previously scheduled for assessments from March 2020 and have not yet been assessed
  • Have completed the Attestation Statement
  • Were granted an extension to the accreditation status with special conditions
  • Are registered for the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) for more than 12 months.

Your assessment should be scheduled at least four months before the revised accreditation expiry date.

What happens if the risk level of my general practice changes during the remediation period?

The remediation period usually involves a review of documentation via a desktop assessment. General practices that can demonstrate they meet all of the requirements of the standards via a desktop assessment can be awarded accreditation.

General practices will not be disadvantaged because of COVID-19, if the risk level of a general practice changes and an on-site assessment is required, the remediation period will be extended until the risk has reduced. The Commission will work with regulators, accrediting agencies and the practice to identify and manage instances where a review of the remediation period may be required.

What if my practice is registered for accreditation and participating in the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) or Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) – Practice Stream?

General practices that have had their registration for accreditation status maintained and were approved for the PIP or WIP – Practice Stream more than 12 months ago are to have their on-site assessment as soon as practical following the resumption of assessments.

General practices located in an area not assessed as low risk for the transmission of COVID-19 will continue to have their registered for accreditation status maintained until it is safe for an on-site assessment to be conducted.

Contact your accrediting agency for more information about your practice’s on-site accreditation assessment.

Can I submit a new application for the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) or Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) – Practice Stream during this period?

General practices that are accredited, registered for accreditation, or have had their accreditation status maintained can still apply for the PIP or WIP – Practice Stream.

The requirement for general practices to achieve accreditation within 12 months of joining the PIP or WIP – Practice Stream is unchanged for practices that wish to submit a new application for the PIP or WIP – Practice Stream and are assessed as low risk for the transmission of COVID-19.

Will assessments be on-site, as they were before COVID-19?

Yes, all assessments are to be conducted using an assessment model with all assessors on site.

What is being done to ensure on-site assessments are conducted safety?

The Commission has been working with accrediting agencies to ensure on-site assessments are as safe as possible for patients, the workforce and assessors. To this end, before entering your general practices, assessors will have:

  • Completed additional infection prevention and control training
  • Passed a screening checklist to ensure they have no signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection.

On site assessors are also required to comply with any screening requirements put in place by the general practices they are visiting.

Will my practice get a new certificate with the revised expiration date?

Accredited general practices participating in the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme will have an additional 12 months added to their current expiry date. This administrative action will be performed by the Commission and accrediting agencies, amended certificates will not be issued. Practices could however seek a statement from their accrediting agency providing the same detail as that on a certificate if requested from their accrediting agency.

Where can I go for further advice?

Enquiries please email the Advice Centre: accreditation@safetyandquality.gov.au or contact your accrediting agency.

The National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme

The  Commission in collaboration with the RACGP developed the NGPA Scheme, which commenced on 1 January 2017. The NGPA Scheme supports the application of the RACGP Standards for general practices.

The NGPA Scheme:

  • Provides a framework for general practices to be assessed against the RACGP Standards for general practices
  • Provides greater choice for general practices seeking accreditation
  • Improves support programs for implementation of accreditation

The NGPA Scheme is aligned to the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation Scheme and includes:

  • The General Practice Accreditation Coordinating Committee, an industry-based stakeholder committee to provide governance and oversight of the NGPA Scheme
  • An approval process for accrediting agencies assessing general practices
  • A data collection and reporting framework for accrediting agencies

The Approval under the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme to conduct accreditation of general practices using the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for general practices outlines the policy and processes for obtaining, maintaining and removing approval as an accrediting agency under the NGPA Scheme.

Data collection and reporting framework

The NGPA Scheme includes a data collection and reporting framework for the approved accrediting agencies. Through the implementation of a consistent and standardised approach to the collection of data, the Commission uses assessment data to:

  • Monitor the NGPA Scheme and the performance of accrediting agencies
  • Understand the perspectives of general practice accreditation
  • Identify areas for improvement.

Post-assessment survey of general practices

Following the completion of an accreditation assessment, general practices will be sent a link from their accrediting agency to complete a brief survey about their experience.

Responses are received directly by the Commission and is used to inform the Commission's performance management of the accrediting agencies. Accrediting agencies do not receive identifiable data from the surveys. 

The purpose of the survey is to seek feedback from general practices about their experience of the assessment process and their accrediting agency without fearing it might negatively impact their assessment outcome. The survey asks questions about the assessor's skills and their approach to the assessment, and the accrediting agencies processes for organising and preparing for the accreditation assessment.

General practices that recently underwent the accreditation process are encouraged to complete the survey. General practices should contact the Commission if they haven't received the link following finalisation of their assessment process. 

Fact sheets for the NGPA Scheme

These fact sheets outline the NGPA Scheme processes for general practices.

Advisories for the NGPA Scheme

An Advisory is a formal communication from the Commission to accrediting agencies to provide guidance and direction on the interpretation and/or assessment of the RACGP Standards for general practices. Advisories are numbered and dated before distribution. The NGPA Scheme advisories are periodically reviewed to ensure they remain current.  Any changes to an Advisory are summarised in the notes section on the Advisory cover sheet. 

The Advisories are routinely reviewed to ensure they remain current. All the Advisories have been updated following the latest review.

Approved accrediting agencies

The Commission has the delegated authority to approve accrediting agencies to assess and accredit general practices. Under the NGPA Scheme, general practices accessing the Department of Health’s Practice Incentives Program (PIP) or the Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) - Practice Stream must be assessed by an approved accrediting agency.

As at 1 January 2020 the following agencies are approved to assess general practices to the RACGP Standards for general practices.

AGPAL

AGPAL Group of Companies

PO Box 2058
Milton BC QLD 4064
Phone: 1300 362 111
Email: info@agpal.com.au
Website

ACHS

Australian Council on Healthcare Standards

5 Macarthur Street
Ultimo NSW 2007
Phone: 02 9281 9955
Email: achs@achs.org.au
Website

QPA

Quality Practice Accreditation Pty Ltd

136 Mount Street
Gundagai NSW 2722
Phone: 1800 188 088
Email: info@gpa.net.au
Website

Global-Mark

Global-Mark Pty Ltd

Suite 4.07 32 Delhi Road
North Ryde NSW 2113
Phone: 1300 766 509
Phone: 02 9886 0222
Email: Health@Global-Mark.com.au
Website 

IHCAC

Institute for Healthy Communities Australia Certification Pty Ltd

PO Box 5582
West End QLD 4101
Phone: 1800 035 033
Email: ihcac@ihcac.com.au
Website

AGPAL

AGPAL Group of Companies

PO Box 2058
Milton BC QLD 4064
Phone: 1300 362 111
Email: info@agpal.com.au
Website

ACHS

Australian Council on Healthcare Standards

5 Macarthur Street
Ultimo NSW 2007
Phone: 02 9281 9955
Email: achs@achs.org.au
Website

QPA

Quality Practice Accreditation Pty Ltd

136 Mount Street
Gundagai NSW 2722
Phone: 1800 188 088
Email: info@gpa.net.au
Website

Global-Mark

Global-Mark Pty Ltd

Suite 4.07 32 Delhi Road
North Ryde NSW 2113
Phone: 1300 766 509
Phone: 02 9886 0222
Email: Health@Global-Mark.com.au
Website 

IHCAC

Institute for Healthy Communities Australia Certification Pty Ltd

PO Box 5582
West End QLD 4101
Phone: 1800 035 033
Email: ihcac@ihcac.com.au
Website

Contact us

The Safety and Quality Advice Centre

The Safety and Quality Advice Centre provides support on the implementation of the NGPA Scheme.

Should you have any queries about the NGPA Scheme, please contact the Commission via the Advice Centre:

Phone: 1800 304 056

Email: accreditation@safetyandquality.gov.au

Primary Care newsletter

To be notified of NGPA Scheme updates, please subscribe in our Primary Care Newsletter

The RACGP

For more information or questions about the RACGP Standards for General Practice, please contact the RACGP on 1800 472 247 or email racgp@racgp.org.au