We appreciate that it is difficult to focus on business as usual activities now, and we are very aware practices are under pressure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We will be implementing the new Quality framework as planned on 1 April, but we are mindful this will not be paramount in the minds of practice teams when dealing with a pandemic.

If a practice's Foundation certification is expiring and they have concerns about re-certifying before the expiration date, then they need to discuss this with their PHO. It is a requirement of the Primary Health Organisation Services Agreement (PSAAP) agreement that practices are Foundation certified. The College cannot grant practices an extension as the ability to do so sits with the PHO. The College recommends that you talk with your PHO and agree on how this will be managed.

The College President Dr Samantha Murton, Medical Director Dr Bryan Betty, and Chief Executive Lynne Hayman are working hard to ensure our members’ concerns and safety are considered by the Ministry of Health officials spearheading New Zealand’s response to this crisis.

Not only have they been fronting media queries to help share information to patients and members, but Bryan is a member of the Ministry’s Technical Advisory Group and was instrumental in establishing its Primary Care sub-committee. He is ensuring GPs’ voices are being heard.

If you’d like to see what our response and activities have been so far, please visit this webpage.. We are also providing fresh updates in every issue of our ePulse newsletter. Of course, there are many more behind-the-scenes meetings and communications taking place in addition to this – COVID-19 is very much top of mind and our number one priority now.

We understand that many of the day-to-day activities undertaken by practice teams are affected and these routine checks cannot take place. A practice’s Certification and / or Accreditation status will not be affected if practices cannot undertake regular testing of equipment during this time.

Yes, the team is operating as normal. As we are working remotely and potentially different hours, there may be occasional difficulties contacting us. Please consider emailing rather than calling, and we will respond as soon as possible.

Questions and answers

Firstly, the College is separating out the two quality programmes – Foundation and Cornerstone.

Foundation will remain the base level of legislative, regulatory and clinical requirements that all practices must comply with as a minimum standard of quality.

Cornerstone becomes a modular programme where practices can choose what level, and what areas they may wish to focus their quality improvement programme on, by tailoring it to their practice’s needs. 

We’re introducing different tiers to our Cornerstone programme: bronze, silver and gold. This means practices are rewarded for their continuous improvement journey with new and interesting modules to work towards.

The Cornerstone assessment process will no longer be run by the College. We will train and moderate assessors, and practices and PHOs will manage the assessor visits themselves.

Cornerstone has remained largely unchanged since its inception. Practices and PHOs told us the programme needed a refresh, and the findings of our pilot programme helped us synthesise what works best for our customers.

Yes. On 1 April 2020 we’ll have the new structure in place including Foundation and three Cornerstone quality modules (Continuous Quality Improvement, Equity and Teaching). Our aim is to introduce more new modules regularly from April 2020 onwards. 

All of the standards and associated criteria have been reviewed for the Foundation Programme, and the Cornerstone Programme modules. We’ve removed repetition and simplified the language. The Cornerstone modular system allows practices to complete quality improvement activities relevant for their patient population, allowing them to focus on what is important to them.

Although practices will continue to maintain their existing quality standards through to the end of March 2020, the College will be shifting its focus away from organising assessments to getting new systems and processes in place.

Practices will be assessed against the Foundation Standard and the modules to achieve accreditation. Practices will engage directly with assessors who will set their own fees.

There will be extensive support and advice provided to practices through FAQs, webinars, our website and via our Quality team.    

The core modules for Cornerstone are Continuous Quality Improvement and Equity

The Core modules must be completed first before embarking on other elective modules. 

Continuous Quality Improvement importantly sets the base learning for a quality programme.

Health equity is a strategic priority for entire health sector. To illustrate the Colleges commitment to equity, we have developed a mandatory Equity module. This module focuses on equity as a tangible way of improving cultural awareness and patient safety within New Zealand’s general practices. 

QA2QI will be replaced by a new I.T solution. The practice data will be available for to practices for review, amend and upload into the new system.

All practices, both Foundation and Cornerstone, will transition across to the new programmes from 1 April 2020. 

A transition plan will be provided to each practice to show requirements, timeframes and costs.

The College will contract directly with practices

There will be an annual license fee for Foundation Standard and a fee for each Cornerstone module.

This will be entirely up to each practice.

For Cornerstone Bronze tier it will be necessary to complete the two core modules.

For Cornerstone Silver, and/or Gold tiers, a combination of elective modules of your choosing can be undertaken.

Current teaching practices will be automatically transitioned to the new Cornerstone programme on 1 April 2020.

An individual practice transition pathway will be established on how to achieve the new module to maintain your teaching status by mid-2021, for future registrar placements.

As Foundation will continue to be a requirement in the PSAAP agreement, achieving Foundation is necessary.

The new Cornerstone programme provides quality improvement opportunities that will add ongoing value to practices..

Assessments will still be required, but the College will no longer undertake or manage the assessment process. Instead, from 1 April 2020, when our two new quality programmes are launched, practices and PHOs will book their assessments directly with assessors, rather than coming through the College’s Quality team.

Each practice is different depending on where they are on their current quality cycle. Each individual practice will have a transition pathway established to achieve Cornerstone Bronze and beyond, after the initial automatic transfer into the new Cornerstone. 

Foundation will have a three-year life once achieved.

Each Cornerstone module will have a three-year life from achievement. At the end of the third year, the practice will complete a ‘refresher’ to maintain achievement of the applicable module.

We’ll send practices a new Cornerstone certificate annually to reflect their current status and the modules that have been achieved and/or maintained in the year.

Each practice is different depending on where they are on their current quality cycle. Each individual practice will have a transition pathway established to achieve Cornerstone Bronze and beyond, after the initial automatic transfer into the new Cornerstone. 

The College encourages GPs to consider recording learning activities towards their CPD requirements where these align with their planned learning needs.

To maintain the integrity and quality of the Foundation Standard and Cornerstone modules we are providing an online version of these documents on our Quality microsite, not a printable PDF version. Practices can print the pages directly from the website. Practices using their Smartsheet web browser can download a copy of their Smartsheet assessment containing all required indicators and criteria or print the content as required.