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.
On-site assessments under the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme
Announcement from the Commission
Resumption of on-site assessments to the RACGP Standards for general practices recommenced from 26 October 2020. This followed the period from 25 March 2020 where the requirements for accreditation in general practices were maintained and no assessments were commenced.
The reintroduction of on-site assessments has taken into consideration the lead-time for planning and preparation of assessments. All accredited general practices have had an additional 12 months added to their current accreditation expiration date.
The Commission has identified criteria for determining which general practices should be assessed. On-site assessments are based upon a risk based approach and are to 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: AdviceCentre@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 are on-site assessments of general practices conducted?
On-site assessments have resumed for general practices with a low risk of COVID-19 transmission. On-site assessments are not be conducted in general practices where there are active COVID-19 clusters or state or territory restrictions or lockdowns. Restrictions on border crossings are also taken into consideration.
Your contracted accrediting agency will work with you, the Commission and the relevant health department to confirm your general practice’s risk status, and schedule the on-site assessment.
How do I know when my next on-site assessment should be?
Accredited general practices have had 12 months added to their current accreditation expiry date. This means whatever month and year your current accreditation was due to expire, it will now expire in that month, one year later.
Your on-site 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?
General practices that have been scheduled for an on-site assessment and are assessed as not low risk of transmission of COVID-19, according to this definition, will have their accreditation maintained. Their on-site assessment will not be scheduled until the practice is considered low risk.
When will my general practice be assessed on site?
When scheduling on-site assessments, the Commission has asked accrediting agencies to prioritise general practices that:
- Have completed the Attestation Statement
- Were previously scheduled for on-site assessments and have not yet been assessed
- Were granted an extension to the accreditation status with special conditions
- Have been registered for the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) for more than 12 months.
Your on-site 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 continue with the assessment process.
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 maintained until the risk has reduced. The Commission works with regulators, accrediting agencies and practices 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 approved for the PIP or WIP – Practice Stream more than 12 months ago are to have their on-site assessment as soon as practical.
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 contracted accrediting agency and Services Australia for more information.
Can I submit a new application for the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) or Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) – Practice Stream?
Yes, however 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 is 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 must 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 have had an additional 12 months added to their current expiry date. This administrative action was performed by the Commission and accrediting agencies, amended certificates have not been reissued. Practices could however seek a statement from their accrediting agency providing the revised accreditation details as that on a certificate if requested from the contracted accrediting agency.
Where can I go for further advice?
Please email the Advice Centre: AdviceCentre@safetyandquality.gov.au or contact your contracted 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
This fact sheet 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.
Accreditation Assessment Outcome: Appeals Process for General Practices
There is provision within the National General Practice Accreditation (NGPA) Scheme for general practices to appeal the outcome of their accreditation assessment.
General practices may appeal to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (the Commission) where the process conducted by the accrediting agency has not complied with the NGPA Scheme.
An appeal to the Commission can follow an appeal to the accrediting agency, or occur without a prior appeal to the accrediting agency. Where an appeal is made directly to the Commission it must be within 20 business days of the general practice receiving its final assessment report from its accrediting agency. Where an appeal is made following an appeal to its accrediting agency, it must be made within 20 business days of the accrediting agency ruling on its appeal.
All appeals are to be in writing. Supporting evidence and documentation should accompany the appeal.
- Submissions should include:
- Name, title and contact details of the person (with delegated authority) submitting the appeal
- General practice name and address
- Name of accrediting agency
- Accreditation expiry date for the general practice
- Assessment date(s) relevant to the appeal
- Reason for submitting an appeal
- Evidence supporting the appeal
On receipt of an appeal the Commission will seek information from the accrediting agency.
Criteria for appeal
A general practice may only appeal to the Commission where their accrediting agency did not comply with:
- The NGPA Scheme as set out in the policy
- Commission fact sheets or Advisories
Where there is evidence that:
- A conflict of interest has been identified in breach of the Policy-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
- The accreditation assessment was not conducted within the time frames as stipulated in the Accreditation flow chart for the National General Practice Accreditation Scheme
- The general practice was not afforded due process to appeal the outcome of the accreditation assessment with their accrediting agency.
Appeals to the Commission will not be considered for reasons such as:
- The general practice did not allow sufficient time, or comply with the reasonable directions of the accrediting agency to finalise the administration of the assessment prior to the accreditation expiry date
- The general practice is transferring between accrediting agencies
- The general practice is disputing the ratings awarded at assessment to actions in a set of standards not part of a Commission accreditation scheme.
Further information on the process flow for assessments and appeals are documented in the fact sheet: Accreditation flow chart for the National General Practice Accreditation Scheme
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.
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
Primary Care newsletter
To be notified of NGPA Scheme updates, please subscribe in our Primary Care Newsletter.
For more information or questions about the RACGP Standards for general practices, please contact the RACGP on 1800 472 247 or email email@example.com