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CQCJuly 1 2015

The Care Quality Commission is “extremely disappointed” that the RCGP has called for an ‘emergency pause’ to CQC inspections of GP premises.

While pointing out that 85% of general practices have been rated good or outstanding, Prof Steve Field, the CQC’s Chief Inspector of General Practice, said that “when over one in seven general practices are not delivering the care that patients have every right to expect, now is not the time for us to put a halt on our inspections.

“In the last few weeks alone, we have found some seriously deficient primary care, which has led to us cancelling the registrations of some practices, in the interests of protecting the safety and quality of care for people who use these services.

“As a practising GP, I have never intended for our inspections to be experienced as a burden to those in the profession – and for a well-managed practice, the information we ask them to provide should not present itself as one.”

Prof Field was responding to the RCGP’s governing Council voting “overwhelmingly” in favour of an emergency motion calling for a suspension of inspections. The motion read:

“In response to the Secretary of State’s announcement that GPs are the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the NHS, Council asks the Chair of Council to write [to him] asking for an immediate pause in the CQC’s programme of routine inspections in order for practices to better manage their workloads. Council calls for an urgent review of CQC inspections and regulatory processes.”

Having a temporary suspension of premises inspections “would prevent general practice from going into meltdown in the next six months as the family doctor service struggles to cope with rocketing patient demand and an increasingly insufficient number of GPs, putting patient safety at risk,” says the RCGP.

RCGP chair Prof Maureen Baker has sent an open letter to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warning that “the current inspection process tends to focus on those things that can be most easily documented and generates considerable additional clinical and administrative activity for practices.”

The letter also says that the RCGP believes that “the time has come to conduct an urgent review of the CQC’s regulatory regime, to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and to ensure that it reflects the distinctive nature of general practice and focuses on what matters most to patients.

“Whilst this takes place, we call for the CQC’s programme of routine inspections to be halted on a temporary basis, as a means of alleviating the pressures on general practice which have now reached such an extent that they are giving rise to serious patient safety concerns. This would not, of course, preclude the CQC from conducting inspections of practices where specific reasons existed for doing so, for instance were a practice to be subject to a significant level of complaints.”

The BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) has also called on the CQC to suspend its current inspection regime after delegates overwhelmingly passed a motion describing the CQC as “unfit for purpose”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: “Even though the vast majority of practices are ultimately rated as good or outstanding, it is clear that the CQC has lost the confidence of the profession and needs urgently to address the fundamental problems with its inspection regime.

“Many of the inspection reports are of questionable clinical value and are presented in simplistic, crude terms that tell patients little about the quality of care being provided by their practice. Even worse they have the potential to mislead the public and do not encourage ongoing quality improvement.”

Links:

CQC statement    

RCGP statement    

BMA statement    

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