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Call to suspend GP practice inspections

GP practice inspections should be suspended after doctors labelled the regulator that runs them ‘unfit for purpose’, the BMA said.

GP leaders have called for the CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspections to be put on hold after the process was condemned by doctors at the BMA annual representative meeting.

The meeting in Liverpool said 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 GPC is writing to the Government and the CQC asking for an urgent meeting to cease the current inspection process. The Royal College of GPs also today called for an ‘immediate pause’ to GP practice inspections to relieve the pressure on practices which it said were ‘on the brink of meltdown’.

 

Questionable benefit

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. 

'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'

Chief inspector of general practice at the CQC Professor Steve Field said it is disappointing that an ‘emergency pause’ to our inspections of general practices has been called for, which is carried out to make sure people across England get safe, high-quality and compassionate primary care. 

In March, the CQC dropped its system of giving risk bandings to practices, which were seen as a direct judgement on care quality, after the BMA raised concerns about them.

The UK local medical committees conference also called for CQC inspections to be scrapped in May.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘GPs and their patients have waited far too long for an evidence-based, proportionate, inspection process that facilitates trust among the profession, and one that the public can have confidence in.’

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