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Independents' Day

200 GP practices face closure under CQC inspections

Up to 200 GP practices could be closed under the new CQC inspection regime, chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field has said.

A pilot of the new regime had so far identified 200 practices that are ‘failing’, Professor Field told Sky News. A ‘handful of surgeries’ would be shut down straight away and ‘scores more’ would be given a year to improve, he said.

CQC inspectors had identified practices that had prescribed the ‘wrong medicines’, had ‘over-prescribed’ antibiotics, were referring suspected cancer cases too late and had ‘staff shortages’ as well as ‘chaotic management,’ according to Sky News.

It comes as the CQC is set to officially launch its new inspection regime of GP practices on Wednesday, when it will determine practices’ ratings across six patient groups, five key questions and combinations of each. These will feed into the practice’s overall rating, which can be ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘needs improvement’, or ‘inadequate’. 

GP practices that are judged ‘inadequate’ in a number of areas by the new CQC inspections will have six months to improve. If they fail to improve they will be put into special measures for a further six months - and if they are still found to inadequate, their registration will be removed.

And practices will have to stump up half the cost of essential support for when they are placed in ‘special measures’ by the CQC in a move described by GP leaders as the ‘final straw’ for many practices.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told a a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham yesterday, that the new Ofsted-style CQC ratings for practices were ‘without doubt the toughtest inspection regime in the world.’

Mr Hunt told delegates: ‘I’m very proud of the changes we’ve made to the inspections regime. I wanted to have inspections that called a spade, a spade and created a culture of continuous improvement and learning throughtout the NHS and social care system. We’ve introduced Ofsted-style ratings in our hospitals, GP surgeries, residential care..that are, I think without doubt, the toughest inspection regime in the world - and I want that to mean that we have the best care in the world.

‘It’s not just about identifying the bad places, but we need to know about them, it’s identifying the good places. On Friday the first hospital in the country got an ‘outstanding’ rating - it’s Frimley Park - which happens to serve some of my constituents. I’ve always known it’s a brilliant hospital, but because of that rating they’re going to get people coming from hospitals all over the country - and I want that to happen with great care homes, with great GP practices as well.’

In an exclusive interview with Pulse earlier this month, Mr Hunt said he would be allowing the new regime ‘to bed down’ before considering whether he could reduce the paperwork involved in GP inspections.

He said: ‘When we started the hospital inspections, people said: ‘We can’t believe 50 inspectors are coming in and seeing the hospital.’ [But] now we are hearing tremendous support for this new regime, because hospitals realise they get a huge amount of useful information. So we need to make sure we don’t overrun people with bureaucracy, but also let GPs see some of the reports they are going to get from chief inspector Professor Steve Field. I hope they will be a way of improving things.’

Mr Hunt’s comments come as Dr Paul Cundy, a long-standing member of the GPC and chair of its IT committee, has accused the the CQC of not following its own procedures and that practices were ‘set up to fail’.In an open letter to the CQC’s senior national GP advisor, Professor Nigel Sparrow and chief inspector of general practice, Professor Steve Field, Dr Cundy said he had found 41 errors in the report prepared on his practice.

 

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Readers' comments (15)

  • In short the Government wants to buy Rolls-Royce quality at Fiesta prices.
    Wonder if the same applies to his pals.
    Wonder how his "local" Hospital got "Outstanding" report from CQC and the only hospital to do so.

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  • Will he be rolling this out to CMHT teams too - I could certainly name one that needs to be put in special measures - or shut down completely.

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  • I've written to CQC about a health spa ( owned by a political party donor) who is running post stroke rehab clinics. Interestingly CQC don't want to inspect the facility as 'outside their scope'.

    I wonder if we should all have a lower threshold for reporting concerns about private companies which are 'outside ' the scope of CQC

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  • Keep at it Steve Field, your organisation's unnecessary stress, worry and cost imposed on practices is doing its bit to help to close down all of general practice.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    If you take away minimum practice income guarantee to ensure both safe practice and adequate staffing and then suggest practices withdraw any requests to close lists when full, you are setting up the rest of the 7,800 GP practices in the NHS to close under 'failed' CQC inspection.

    Where is our trade union at a time of dire emergency need? This will be remembered in history as the time the doctors' trade union idlely watched the demise of the profession of general practice. I hope those alive to remember the family doctors' spirit of '66 are looking away at the shame of our current trade union leadership led by a hospital consultant.

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  • BMA? More like BMAway for Lunch

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  • No doubt closing down practices in those in areas where tescburys salaried services are ready to open first?

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  • BMAway with the fairies more like.

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  • Approx 200 / 8000, so one in 40 having major issues.

    Sounds about right to be honest, most PCTs had one or two practices with major performance issues, after a partnership breakdown, individual bankruptcy, someone who should have retired 20 years ago etc...

    Respectfully suggest the other 97.5% should be glad to have the small minority tackled, both for the bad name they give others and for the truly shocking care a failing practice gives its patients.

    Just need to be sure CQC have the right 200 of course...

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  • Mr. Hunt announced to delegates : "I am proud to say that we are destroying general practice and don't intend to help any struggling practices"

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  • Most high antibiotic prescribing practice eg rescue medications have lower hospital admission rates , so closing them is unfair.

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  • come on we all know some GPs give antibiotics for every cold

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  • In a climate where general practice is barely holding on wobbly feet, we are talking about closing further Pratices some of whom have been functioning satsfactorily for 20 years or even longer. Could we tone down that menacing note and maybe have a gentler note instead of sheer scaremongering?

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  • Can we define a "failing GP" or a "failing practice"? The GP may be on drugs or depressed (ie need help not global condemnation and acrimony) or staff may have left suddenly so the few remaining strugglers cannot cope with the workload (ie need help not global condemnation and acrimony) or the GP may be totally exhausted and burnt out (ie need help not global condemnation and acrimony) - get the picture? When will out beloved friends in Whitehall realise that "naming and shaming" the only workforce they have is not only terribly destructive, it is also totally mad and counterproductive - ie it gets the very opposite result to what they desire. Wake up Mr Hunt! You are shooting yourself in the foot here!

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  • The overpressed GP has no time for the tick box so may well fail

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