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Our inequalities should be faced, not feared

letters

Peter Bernamont's letter (AJ 11.3.04), reacting to an AJ report of the possible development of the registered practice concept, is a useful expression of fears.

However, the scheme is still in consultation and development, and the AJ report was in no sense a full description; that will come later. Nor is it my idea, though I think it could be valuable.

The basic thinking is that customers, practices and their staff could all benefit from the directory of practices carrying more information. For staff it would be useful to know what each practice does about training and good employment policies; for customers it would be good to see which were suitably specialised and qualified for their needs. All practices would benefit from the results of regular, unattributed surveys about workload, fee income and other benchmarks on a wider sample basis than today.

Improved choice of services to practices, including the possibility of better insurance offers for those following good risk-management policies, would surely be welcome. Bernamont concedes that practice standards could usefully rise. We don't want a divisive scheme, but one with aspiration and guidance built in. The present registered practice scheme doesn't pretend that all practices are equal and customers would not want them to be.

Richard Saxon, RIBA presidential candidate, London

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