This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

Revealed: Hundreds of practices rated risky after CQC botched up patient experience data

Practices that scored well on the GP patient survey were penalised by the CQC’s ‘intelligent monitoring’ scheme because it got answers ‘the wrong way round’, despite the error having been previously flagged up during testing.

During the regulator’s annual accountability hearing in front of the health select committee yesterday, David Behan, the CQC’s chief executive, made the admission that the regulator had changed the wording of the question on the patient survey around ease of access, but had failed to change the answers accordingly, an error affecting 400 practices.

This resulted in practices that received good comments from patients being marked as high risk for that particular indicator, while practices receiving negative comments from patients were given positive ratings for the indicator.

The risk ratings were published on the regulator’s website last month, and were immediately criticised by GPs for rating practices on imperfect data without completing an inspection. The ratings were seized on by national and local media, with practices marked as ‘at risk of providing poor care’.

The CQC has already been forced to apologise to 60 practices who were marked as risky following errors with the indicators, which were first flagged up by Pulse, and has been forced to overhaul five of the 38 measures it uses.

But Mr Behan’s comments are the first indication of the extent of the errors.

He told the committee that its testing of the scheme in July ‘did not flag up any issues’.

He added: ‘What happened in the stakeholder discussions in August is that the question – and this is the first indicator that got withdrawn, the question about ‘can you get an appointment with your GP – that question was originally asked in the negative: ie, “do you have a problem getting an appointment with your GP”.

‘That was flipped around in August, so it was asked as a positive question. The error that we made was that the data wasn’t changed at that time.’

Dr Sarah Wollaston, the former GP who is now chair of the committee, asked: ‘In other words, having changed the question, you didn’t match the change in the answer? It was a complete flip – so people with good access ended up with a bad score, and people with bad access ended up with a good score. Is that a fair way to summarise it?’

Mr Behan replied: ‘Yes. It was the wrong way round.’

Dr Wollaston said that this was a ‘pretty serious’ mistake, and Mr Behan agreed.

He added: ‘We sent that data as part of our face validation exercise to over 400 practices. That is 400 practices out of over 7,500. People came back to us and flagged those changes but we did not pick that up at that time.’

The RCGP and the BMA have called for the whole ratings system to be withdrawn.

Related images

  • CQC -online
gp heroes nominations2020 180x250px

Readers' comments (25)

  • There has been a catalogue of errors in the short time that CQC has been involved with GP Practices. Perhaps it's time for someone to take responsibility and do the honourable thing?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Fechiniijits

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • ‘Yes. It was the wrong way round.’

    They don;t seem to have any idea of the damage they can cause. No idea at all. What with local complaints procedures, Appraisal , Revalidation , GMC, Health Ombudsman , civil action , poor performance units within nhse outposts and unfair local reputation smearing we have quite enough jeopardies without this Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka approach.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "People came back to us and flagged those changes but we did not pick that up at that time."

    How can you not pick it up when it has been flagged to you? What that actually means is:

    "People came back to us and flagged those changes and we ignored it"

    Take responsibility properly for goodness sake.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The issue here isn't necessarily about errors with data, although this is a fairly major mistake, it is that this data should never have been publicly available and published on the website. If the CQC are going to stratify practices in terms of risk to help them plan inspections then this is fine. The only information that should be published is the report following a formal inspection

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The changes in NHs have all been for the worse after Harold Shipman.The PCTs could not be trusted to look after patients in following Evidence based Medicine.and In imposing effective faulty untried IT Systems were implemented to be be removed in a year after axing the user salariedGPs who had no role in advocating such systems.Tghis drained Britains finances. The PCTs powers were recently taken up by by CQC and NHS did not change PCT's dangerous and uneneconomical non cosr effective measures.Are we heading for doom!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "The PCTs powers were recently taken up by by CQC"

    To a point...but equally CQC have reduced a raft of nonsense like checking for paper protocols etc that never really had to be done before in this manner. It's extra work and it makes little difference to quality of care.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • introduced a raft of nonsense, not reduced it that should be...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How many blunders does someone have to make before they resign?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • If I publicly acused a practice of being rubbish I would expect to be struck off. The danger in a patient not attending a doctor because their perception was that they were poor may have dire consequences for that patient.
    CQC, monitor, revalidation appraisal, CCG, Health and social care boards, secondry care, PPG, the daily wail all expect us to be something we're not and are all having a nibble at us and blaming us for things outside our control and critisising providing the all you can eat buffet for 70 quid a year /pt- let us GPs be and let us be GPs. It's a joke a disgrace and noone really gives a ....- except staff and GP in primary care

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Another class action?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "The RCGP and the BMA have called for the whole ratings system to be withdrawn."

    A little bit too late no? You cant un-open pandora's box. This pathetic list shouldnt have made it to the public domain in the first place.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Depressive reading when one's livelihood appears to depend on ignorant perricks.

    Good thing I left.

    You guessed it: I would have become militant...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Took Early Retirement

    Prof Field may yet BE struck off. (though I doubt it, being firmly in the THEM camp rather than "us"). I am still awaiting a response from the GMC as to whether they will look into my complaint.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    I have an idea now:
    I think CQC might have been secretly double crossing the government to destroy its trust and credibility . We should applaud these guys instead!!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • CQC; the slapstick Christmas Gift that keeps on giving.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • No Practice has been rated, please read the guidance that comes with the risk bandings, they are just a way of scheduling inspections. GP practices will only be rated once they have been inspected.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Yet we were inspected, given five green ticks and announced as 'fully compliant', and then rated as Grade 1. What is one supposed to make of that?!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is a big test of Cameron and hunt's insistance that there will be accountability within these NHS organisations - who will go as a result of this basic avoidable error? Or are mistakes within the health service when they hurt businesses and patient confidence acceptable?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • CQC - unfit for purpose (that sounds kinder than my original thoughts which involved the words piss-up and brewery).
    Dear CQC, if we made errors of such magnitude people would die. It wouldn't be enough for us to say 'Ooops, sorry!'
    Has anyone noticed how quiet our pal Steve has been recently? Always in the press when he is championing things, mysteriously absent when it all goes tits up.
    Knighthood delayed by a few months.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say