GPs call for a halt to CQC inspections

GP leaders have called for an “emergency pause” in CQC inspections to relieve pressure on overworked surgeries.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has written to the health secretary asking for a halt to inspections so that GPs can better manage their workload and concentrate on patient care. Jeremy Hunt and the CQC have both rejected the idea.

The college has also called for an urgent review of CQC inspections and processes.

In the letter to Jeremy Hunt, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker warns that the burdens being placed on GPs by the CQC, and pressures to provide seven day access for routine care are undermining efforts to turn around the crisis in general practice.

The letter states: “In the view of RCGP Council, 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.

"We believe 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 focusses 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 letter follows a resolution condemning CQC inspections of GPs that was passed at the BMA annual representatives meeting.

The resolution said that the CQC had demonstrably failed to deliver the tasks it was set to do and continued to damage the morale and professionalism of all doctors.

BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul said: “Even though the vast majority of practices are ultimately rated as good or outstanding [following their inspection], 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.”

The BMA’s General Practitioner Committee (GPC) is also writing to the government and the CQC asking for an urgent meeting to cease the current inspection process.

Dr Nagpaul said the GPC had been voicing “significant concerns” about the CQC’s operation including the “overly bureaucratic and often nit-picking assessments” for some time.

“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,” he said.

The CQC has reacted by saying it is disappointed at the calls for an “emergency pause” in its inspections of general practices.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice, said: "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."

Jeremy Hunt said any halt in inspections would let the public down.

He said: "We make absolutely no apology for giving the public clear information for the first time on the quality of their local GP services, or for ensuring that hardworking families can access a GP seven days a week.

"To halt inspections now would be a big mistake, and slow down the process of improvement for those surgeries which aren't giving the public the high standards of care they deserve."

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Max Moullin   24/06/2015 at 14:40

Interesting discussion. On behalf of patients, we need to ensure that GP practices provide quality, safe, patient-focussed care. But this needs to be done within a culture of innovation, improvement and learning rather than a top-down blame culture. Incidentally, this is the aim of the Public Sector Scorecard which was described in my article in NHE below.

Scotchrocket   01/07/2015 at 18:04

how are cqc visits improving the care of patients in the 1 in 7 practices mentioned by steven field??

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