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At the heart of general practice since 1960

One more policy and I’ll scream

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Suffering irony deficiency? Try this. Our practice manager is so consumed by CQC work she’s struggling to find time to manage the practice. Or this: our patient library is being dumped to free up shelf space for all the CQC paperwork. Or this: our CQC lead partner is so snowed under she’s having to cancel surgeries – and that’s before she even thinks about taking any time off for Post-CQC Stress Disorder. Hilarious, innit?

Yes, I have moaned about the CQC before. But I could moan about it forever in these columns, and in my spare time, and I still wouldn’t do it justice.

I can’t recall a time when we had so many cack-brained impositions distracting us from the day job, and the CQC is simply the worst of the lot.

At the last count, according to our practice manager, CQC work has generated 201 practice policies. I have no idea if this is true, but it doesn’t matter. It feels as though it is.

Prior to CQC, we rarely uttered the word ‘policy’. Now we talk of little else. We have an ‘Assistance Dogs Policy’, a ‘Blame-Free Culture Policy’, a ‘Co-operating with Other Providers Policy’ and, Holy Mother of God, a ‘Hand Hygiene Policy’ (10 pages, I kid you not, with pictures).

Our overarching policy seems to be to have as many policies as possible. Maybe we can build a wall of policies in the hope of keeping the CQC out.

Worse still, this insane fiasco is blurring the lines between what the CQC wants a happy-clappy primary care world to be like and what we’re actually obliged to do. It’s as though we’re working to two distinct contracts simultaneously.

For example, the CQC asks what we’re doing about patient involvement. Well, we were engaged in a Patient Reference Group DES until the suits decided, on the basis of an uncrossed ‘t’ and an undotted ‘i’ , not to pay a penny for any of the work involved. Despite that, we’ve continued to encourage patient involvement – suggesting, for example, that they might like to be involved in burning down the PCT offices.

And the Department of Health is playing a blinder with this CQC-generated contractual fuzziness.
Why pay GPs organisational QOF points when all that admin stuff is going to be CQCed to within an inch of its life anyway? Hence the plan to dump the QOF organisational domain: what once generated GP income, we now have to fund. What next? Making us pay for the pleasure of consulting?

The awful truth is that impositions like the CQC are destroying our souls and sapping our will to live. We use all our energy to dodge deadlines and tick boxes when we should be using it to scream in protest at the absurdity of it all, as any self-respecting profession would.

Which is tragic. We know that, in general practice, all the effort devoted to satisfying the CQC will not benefit a single patient. By taking up all our time, by paralysing our admin staff, by taking partners away from patients, by generating more meetings, by dissipating our energy, by destroying our morale and by undermining our professionalism, it will achieve the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do.

Which, frankly, is enough of an irony overload to make you want to venesect.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at tonycopperfield@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Nhsfatcat

    Send this as an open letter to DH and CQC from the profession.
    I'd sign this rather than anything GPC has done so far!

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  • Wait until they send you the bill which, I hasten to add, is still to be decided. Not only do we get the pleasure of Policymania, but we get the delight of paying for it too.
    Now that's something to look forward to, isn't it?!

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  • Peter Swinyard

    It gets worse, Tony. From next year we will have to pay for the privilege of letting CQC inspectors interrogate our patients to ensure that the delinquent alcoholics are "satisfied with their patient experience" - ie we bought them a drink and the legion of snot donors must be listened to when they are moaning that we saw a patient with chest pain in front of them. And we are to pay for this privilege. Can't even escape this little bureaucratic nightmare by all resigning our NHS contracts because as every politician knows in his soul, the medical profession is conspiring to murder every other patient and the answer to this is more regulation...

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  • Eeeeeeh.... read with heartfelt empathy. (as per the 'Telling It Like It Is' policy.)

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  • Well at the end of a long CQC day yet again! This article has really lifted my ‘spirits’ in the fact that I know that there is ‘somebody out there’ who feels just as I do!!

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  • Stuart Calder

    I've just wasted another afternoon, not seeing any patients, working on my contribution to the practice CQC document. Nice to find I'm not the only GP wondering what on earth benefit all this extra work is this going to confer.

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  • Isn't it time the BMA decided this is were we make our stand.
    If every practice stuck together and refused this work no patients would be harmed and there's no way the NHS could manage without us.

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  • CQC is a nightmare . In addition we have revalidation.
    The simple process of trying to understand the MRCGP toolkit or the MAG Model appraisal form takes longer than doing a course or reading clinically useful stuff. Then you're not sure that you've filled the computer stuff in right or the web site won't crash and lose all your information. Basically if it goes on like this GP is finished. My offspring has started medicine and I certainly will not be recommending GP

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  • The BMA are completely, utterly useless. I am of a vintage that did 80 hour weekends without sleep routinely,336 hours continuously often and 3 month shifts rarely. Sleep deprived torture. Any Union that sanctions such for its members will only say ' What CQC ?' The BMA takes our money and goes to meetings to explain that it.s going to get worse, but we are better off than sub-Saharan Africa and we don't have to walk 10 miles for water- so what are we complaining about?

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  • You have crystallised my feelings exactly - the politicians are transforming a challenging but rewarding job into an unpleasant and impossible one.

    Now are we going to do anything about it?

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From: Copperfield

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