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The CQC should inspect its infection control teams first

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Solihull practice, I feel your pain: your carpet ripping, ceiling stripping, skirting-board smashing pain. Because a couple of years ago, our practice, like yours, had a visit from some stern-faced, clipboard-wielding infection-control Nazis.

And, like my Solihull colleagues, who’ve had to dismember their practice because of some theoretical risk involving unspecified pathogens lurking in carpets and behind skirting boards waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting and immunocompromised, I, too had to watch my surgery being dismantled at the behest of jobsworths with obsessive/compulsive handwashing issues.

It still brings tears to my eyes. Out went the carpets, swapped for horrible, cold, clinical lino. Out went the metal speculae, in favour of flimsy plastic versions which warp and buckle before you so much as glimpse the cervix. And out went the curtains, replaced by nothing other than the dank, despairing gloom of a typical Basildonian day as seen through bare, frosted glass. Worst of all, though, was the ban on waiting room toys: there are few sights more moving than a funeral pyre of toxic teddies.

Only a few weeks after this trauma, we discovered that it was a complete load of bollocks. Most of these recommendations were an over-reaction, sorry and all that, we seem to have ripped the soul out of your practice unnecessarily.

First us, now Solihull. Even the CQC – generally seen as the apotheosis of rigid, bureaucracy-spawning heavy-handed authority – says these draconian detox measures are unnecessary. But it’s too late now, isn’t it? Health and safety have done their worst, and we’re left in a world of lino, of plastic speculae, a place devoid of toys and curtains and skirting boards: a world that is free of germs but free of hope, too.

So can I suggest that, before the CQC starts inspecting practices, it inspects Infection Control Teams? Because if they can be deemed unfit for purpose, they can’t do the same to us, can they?

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

Readers' comments (4)

  • Clipboard maniacs removed our fabric curtains, replaced them with paper ones and then declared our fan heaters a fire hazard. Two words, first one sounds like "duck" ....

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  • No change without data based on real life clinical differences in outcome for patients... Er.. There is none

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  • In my local hospital the infection control nurses have re-branded themselves "Saving Life Co-ordinators".

    Says it all really......

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  • I shouldn't worry too much. The CQC no longer has its infection control team. Don't assue that just because outcome 8 (IC) has its own book (Code of Conduct) the CQC places significant importance on it. They don't. It's not possible to train all inspectors thoroughly in outcome 8, not given the current training set-up. Unless inspectors see a trigger they probably won't inspect for infection control. Be concerned because patients deserve not to pick up HCAIs, not because the CQC knows how to inspect outcome 8.

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From: Copperfield

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