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Independents' Day

Dear CQC inspector, welcome to the real world

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It’s over. They’ve been and gone. We’ve had our CQC inspection and we’ve gotten away with a slap on the bum, officially termed a ‘compliance notice’.

If I gave a rat’s ass I would have asked, ‘What did we do to deserve this?’

Apparently all the clinical stuff - the never-quite-finished but near-enough audits, the copy of, ‘Child Abuse Spotting For Dummies’ in the coffee room library and the pile of documents outlining our Safeguarding Procedures that gather dust in the Practice Manager’s office - all passed muster.

Where we let ourselves down, where the accusing finger came to rest, was in the infrequently used Treatment Room in our branch surgery. There, amid the detritus of everyday life at the coal face, was a half empty box of salbutamol nebules. Nebules that, and we cannot apologise enough for this horrendous oversight, had passed their sell-by date.

Next to them on the trolley, and ready for use at a moment’s notice, was a brand new box. However, the time-expired medicines had not been removed from the area.

The Inspectors’ implication – wrist slap wise - being that the next clinician who needed to use the kit wouldn’t have noticed that the meds had gone past their best Before date or if they had wouldn’t have bothered to open the nice new box lying alongside.

Which I think is just pants. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t check what they’re giving, check that it’s in date and note down the serial number before injecting, infusing, inserting, implanting or in any other way getting a chemical into a patient. In fact, I resent the insinuation that we wouldn’t.

Or I would resent it if I gave the aforementioned rat’s ass about the opinions of an organisation variously described as ‘not fit for purpose’, ‘failing to address, or even acknowledge’ its own shortcomings and ‘struggling to deliver’ a safe service.

I hate to imply that a bunch of politicians might have got something right about the NHS, but the Cross Party Public Accounts Committee’s admission that they were ‘far from convinced’ that the regulator was up to the major challenge of registering and assessing GP practices is ringing true.

A GP surgery is made up of a great many moving parts – the inspectors might also have noticed that we don’t always clear our coffee cups away at the end of a shift at the Duty Doctor’s desk. We sometimes forget to shut down our PC terminals properly or to sign out of our social media accounts at the end of the day. We leave the tops off tubs of urine testing sticks, lock ourselves out of our consulting rooms and print prescriptions for 200 steroid nasal sprays when we really wanted 200 doses. We get our timetables confused and occasionally turn up at the wrong surgery. Keep this to yourselves, but strictly entre nous we don’t always sing ‘Happy Birthday’ all the way through every time we wash our hands.

We’re nothing but a bunch of filthy, negligent sluts. And the proof is sitting right there, in the form of a half used box of beta-agonists.



Readers' comments (3)

  • I'm from an age where the only drugs with use-by dates were vaccines and antibiotics. You sniffed anything with aspirin - if it smelled of acetic acid you doubtless took it anyway and if the paraldehyde was brown the rectal route was probably safer.

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  • we had the same problem with a bottle of hibiscrub ... it was one day out of date. they tipped it down the sink so no fool would use it and left the bottle discarded on the draining board on it's side oozing all over the place !! madness

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  • If your clinicians are sooooooo good at spotting out of date medicines JUST BEFORE injecting a patient, why did the last clinician to use this trolley not spot duff medicines lying around?
    This is how patient safety incidents start, with tiny little careless errors mounting up to big significant ones. You sir have a problem with your practice, and would do well not to advertise this in a national magazine.

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder