You may be aware that last year, The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (the College) reviewed its quality programme in response to feedback received from practices.

Following extensive consultation and a pilot, we’re pleased to present our finalised quality framework, which we believe will be more appropriate, helpful and fit-for-purpose. Importantly, we are separating Foundation and Cornerstone into two distinct programmes. 

Foundation programme

To meet PSAAP requirements and qualify for capitation funding, practices will need to complete the College’s new Foundation programme. This standalone programme covers all the basics expected of a general practice and it is a prerequisite for entering our Cornerstone programme. 

Foundation accreditation will be valid for three years, charged in annual instalments. Each year practices will be asked to submit a reflective assessment confirming their practice still meets the programme requirements. We do not envisage this being an arduous process. 

We are changing our programmes so they are less prescriptive and rigid, and more flexible and reflective. While completion will still be evidence-based, we’re empowering practices to take control of their continuous improvement activities.

Cornerstone programme

  1. Practices have options: we’re introducing levels of accreditation so practices can choose which level they want to achieve: bronze, silver, or gold.
  2. Modules are relevant: there are just two mandatory quality modules (Equity and Continuous Quality Improvement). The topic and number of additional modules undertaken is completely up to the practice. 
  3. Modules have a life of three years:  at the end of the third year the practice will complete a refresher of the module.  All things being equal, they will not need to re-do the entire module again.
  4. Annual updates: instead of a four-year accreditation process, practices will get an annual certificate acknowledging their current status. 
  5. Independent assessors: the College is stepping back from doing assessments. The College will train all assessors for each module, however practices will choose who and when to do their assessment.  
  6. External modules will be introduced: the strategic outcome of our quality programme is to improve workplace and clinical systems for the benefit of practices and patients, so the College will encourage external parties to submit relevant modules to incorporate into the Cornerstone programme.  The College will assess external modules for their fit and alignment to improving health outcomes, so that the Cornerstone journey will remain dynamic, varied, and futureproof. 

Assessment process 

We’ve been heavily involved in the quality assessment process for many years however, based on feedback from PHOs and members, we’ve made the decision to step back from managing assessments. From 1 April 2020, when our new framework is implemented, practices and PHOs will be able to contact assessors directly when they need to book an assessment. 

PHOs may consider training some of their staff to become assessors – alternatively they may choose to use independent assessors. The College will train all assessors and publish a list of endorsed assessors for practices to choose from but, rather than the College doing the assessments, we’ll focus on moderating assessors’ recommendations to ensure national consistency.

Transition to the new programme 

All practices will automatically move onto the new programmes on 1 April 2020. We’ll be providing regular updates to help practices with this transition. There will be extensive support and advice provided to practices via FAQs, webinars, our website and our Quality team.

We look forward to working with the sector as we journey towards the introduction of our refreshed quality programmes.

FAQs and visual representation 

You can see a visual representation of this new framework and FAQs here.


If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch by emailing

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