latest health care news

01.09.17

Proposed CQC regulation reform plans ‘very disappointing’ for GPs

The CQC proposals to reform how primary care services are inspected are “very disappointing” and fail to address the growing regulatory and administrative burden on GP practices at a time of limited resources, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has said.

Responding to the inspectorate’s consultation on plans to make visits more targeted and responsive, which closed earlier this month, RCGP vice chair Professor Martin Marshall said effective regulation must add value to care, not “detract or distract from the quality of it”.

Nor should it divert already limited resources away from “hard-pressed GPs who are working flat-out” to provide frontline care, he argued.

“The college supports a revised approach to regulation that will reduce the regulatory and administrative burden on GPs, encourage quality improvement and promote accountability, while addressing long-standing unacceptable performance,” continued Prof Marshall.

“While some of the proposals may make sense in isolation, collectively they do not address the issue of the growing regulatory and administrative burden on GP practices.

“In the short term at least, the CQC’s proposals could result in an increase in the administrative burden on practices if they are expected to provide additional information and keep it up to date.”

He also criticised the timing of the proposals, which will begin to affect practices a time where they are struggling to cope with demand pressures, severe staff shortages and insufficient investment.

“GPs also need to be assured that the time, effort and resources for monitoring and information gathering are targeted on those practices most likely to benefit,” the RCGP vice chair emphasised.

Parts of the planned changes, such as creating longer intervals between inspections for practices rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, will be welcomed by doctors – but the overall impact of the regulatory burden will not be reduced, he explained. Plans are also not enough to make a significant difference to the everyday workload and working lives of staff.

“We have raised these concerns in our response to the CQC consultation and will be pressing for these to more fully reflected in the CQC’s proposals,” said Prof Marshall.

As it stands, the CQC’s timetable for implementing plans would see the new approach rolled out from November this year.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, it will also introduce provider information collection for GP federations and super practices, as well as test provider-level assessment of registration changes. From April 2019, there will then be a phased implementation of provider-level assessments.

When the consultation was published in June, trusts argued changes were vital to ensure the regulation system was fit for the future – but agreed that the regulatory burden was still too high. Amber Davenport, head of policy for NHS Providers, had argued the CQC needed to work with other organisations to align activity and reduce duplication.

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