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Independents' Day

Letter: CQC inspector recruitment was a farce

From Dr David Riley, retired GP, Canterbury

I retired from general practice in April 2012 after a 30-year career as a GP and when the CQC advertised for inspectors in April 2013 I immediately emailed them to volunteer. I knew about the pressures within general practice and felt I could do a good job both finding problem areas and protecting practices from irrelevant demands from the CQC itself. I expected no pay but expected that expenses were would be given.

I heard nothing more, not even an acknowledgement, until August when I received an email apologising for not responding. In October I received two more emails – again apologising for no contact but, as with previous emails, neglecting to provide any information.

Nothing further was heard until late March this year when another email requested my CV, biography and references. I sent them back with a note expressing my disappointment about the poor contact and lack of information – at least, even, a job description. One week the CQC supplied a woolly job description.

In late April I received a call from a CQC representative, wanting to set up a telephone interview for the role. When I expressed my shock at their lack of professionalism she told me that she had done over 200 interviews and that I was the first to complain, but she would escalate my complaint to her superior.

The following week I had a call from Steve Field’s office and I finally got some answers. The person on the phone informed me that if I was recruited, my training would consist of attending an ‘academy’ (she couldn’t say where my nearest was) plus online tuition. When I was ‘trained’, the CQC would pay me a fee to inspect practice, but would not pay any expenses.

She then asked if I was available to be fast-tracked access to the online tuition, so that in two weeks’ time to inspect a practice in London? The inspection team would consist of me, she said, and a local manager (if they could find one). And if I couldn’t do that, then please could I inspect somewhere else in four weeks?

I spent an hour explaining the difficulties practices had preparing for the CQC inspections. That was the last I heard from her. Since then I have had several more emails asking me to fill out a form and get CRB checks.

But even before the two phone calls, I knew I no longer wanted to work for the CQC. I was totally disillusioned by its amateur approach and shocked that it was prepared to send me, untrained and alone, to inspect a practice.

Good luck to all GPs who are still expecting a CQC inspection.

Response from Professor Nigel Sparrow, senior national GP advisor to the Care Quality Commission:

‘While specialist advisors are not inspectors, they play an important role in our new approach to regulating general practices as they provide professional advice and support to the inspection teams.  All of our advisors are checked and trained prior to their appointments and are accompanied by inspectors on their visits.

While we cannot comment on individual recruitment cases, we apologise for any delays in correspondence that the author of this letter may have received. We encourage them to get in touch with us directly to discuss their concerns further.’


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Readers' comments (11)

  • The catholic pope is clearing bear exceter from the the local wood. god forbid someone sensible wanted a role in the cqc. Well done Dr Riley for not lowering your standards and working for an organisation that is supposed to be inspecting and awarding standards! You couldn't make it up.

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  • Dear Prof Sparrow, that is one of the most pathetic replies I have heard in many a long year.
    Someone needs to get some ownership of this organisation.
    Best wishes
    A GP who will expect to be able to question the qualifications of those who wish to inspect my Practice

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  • Is prof Sparrow telling us that the GPs on the inspection team are not inspectors at all, merely advisors? The inspectors are the ex-PCT bureaucrats who have no knowledge, experience, or ability in General Practice. We all know how much notice they took of GP advice in their former jobs. Oh great. So the GPs on the inspection team are just there to give it a fake credibility, the inspectors are the same unqualified people as per the previous system.

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  • My experience of the GP adviser recruitment process is as follows: I contacted them for more information and I was sent an email which was missing the stated attachments (job description), stated that an assessment day was in August when it was actually in September and included the application letter of another GP in the body of the email!
    However the state of general practice is so bad that I am still considering applying!!!
    No doubt I've just scuppered that as they'll work out who I am from the above.

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  • CQC inspectors often do not, and not required to have a clinical background.
    A bit like sending a seamstress into an operating theatre, she may know how to sew dresses but can she sew a wound?
    Someone please tell em, who inspects the inspectors?

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I am sooooo glad I got out 3 months ago!

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  • It does feel as though there is a lot of CQC bashing at the moment, which I do not think is entirely fair. From an outside perspective there has been a significant shift in the approach CQC are taking, which is more GP friendly and more GP aware, which I welcome. This system is new and I imagine as with all things new there can be teething problems. But I welcome the direction and hope the CQC will continue to be open and as per their own standard continue to learn from experience and feedback. There will be GPs on the CQC inspection team, there is greater transparency on the inspection criteria, with more emphasis on how organisations learn, and more notice to practices of visits.
    I understand the trepidation, I am not looking forward to the work required when they come to our surgery, but these are reasons to engage the CQC in their continuing changes, their development and the impact they have for practices, hopefully to reflecting and rewarding the excellent care most of us GPs provide, and the passion and dedication we have for our work and our communities.

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  • "these are reasons to engage the CQC in their continuing changes, their development and the impact they have for practices, hopefully to reflecting and rewarding the excellent care most of us GPs provide, and the passion and dedication we have for our work and our communities."


    Sorry but reasons to are engage are that your livelihood will be removed if you fail.

    Tick the box, keep your head down, nothing to see here.

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  • To Anonymous GP partner21/08@ 11. 57 am,
    ...hello Steve, Steve is that you., hello..I know it's

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  • Secure environments GP

    Well I applied, sent CV, a biography and references as requested. Then I got multiple disorganised emails about various dates and confusing information about the process. I must have had at least 10 emails despite them having my personal details they kept asking in every email for this personal (presumably qualifying) information again and again - they had already received it!

    I could not attend any of the earlier dates for training, and when I found out I would not be reimbursed for my trouble I sent them this email:

    Dear [NAME of contact]

    Unfortunately, I cannot attend on point of principle.
    You have already received by CV and all requirements to make a shortlisting.

    I had assumed this would be done and a decision made on which potential suitable candidates would be invited to go through the assessment process.

    Practices are obliged to pay annual fees to be registered with the CQC. I am shocked that this does not provided the CQC with the funds to provide locum cover for working GP partners to take a half day out from seeing patients.

    If you would like my attendance at the assessment centre this will have to be fully funded.

    Many thanks

    Note: I did NOT get a reply to this email sent on 22nd August 2014. I am GP Partner with several years experience as a QoF Assessor, Information Management & Technology DES Clinical Assessor (as was) and QoF 5% Post-payment verification Assessor. I no longer wanted to work for the CQC either. I will stay on this side of the fence now, thank you....

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