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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

The CQC does more harm than good

Dr Kailash Chand 

Dr Kailash Chand

 

Nobody disagrees that a very high-profile problem of unethical or otherwise incompetent doctors can tarnish the reputation of the entire medical profession. There are, without question, a small number of such physicians, and when they are identified they must be dealt with. While the methods must be consistent with the principles of due process and natural justice, the overarching objective must be to protect the public.

But, after over a decade of CQC existence, isn’t it time to admit inspection doesn’t protect the patients nor improve the quality? The CQC inspections are one of the most dysfunctional and wasteful ways you can try to address quality.

CQC exists to insult, denigrate and put the boot in

The complexity and technicalities of regulatory demands shift the focus of the hard pressed professionals to compliance with the CQC - ’passing’ inspections and getting a good ‘rating’ - rather than meeting residents’ needs. Ask a GP how much time and resources away from clinical work is wasted to meet the unrealistic expectations of the CQC inspectors.

Inspecting GP surgeries and hospitals sounds good in the headline world of newspapers and sound-bite public opinion. Politicians play to the gallery; the staff at the CQC are the luckless cast who know in their hearts they are in pursuit of a foolish enterprise.The GPs and hospital doctors I meet tell me that CQC exists to insult, denigrate and put the boot in. In my view, the practices providing an inadequate service are usually doing so because they were struggling to recruit GPs or nurses, or were being denied necessary resources by the NHS.

For 15 years, we have inspected the NHS and gained nothing. Inspection helps no-one and has been abandoned by the bulk of service industry. You’ve got to get to a point where people say they have a problem and ask for help. You need a self-correcting system that relies on the individual professional, then on their team, and then on their CCG or board. We are driving that out of the system. What’s more, we pay an enormous cost for deluding ourselves that we are successfully improving care.

There are good reasons for having some kind of inspection system.There are dangers that are particular to general practice that demand that we provide safe and quality care to our patients. But the bureaucratic maze that is the CQC is never going to be able to deliver on those reasonable expectations. The Quality Emperor has no clothes. It distorts the whole primary care sector, and the organisation is blinkered, risk averse, top-heavy and bureaucratic.

It's time to replace the CQC. Let’s find local solutions responsible for the quality of GP and hospital safety and quality. The key, as I see it, is to get more local and to humanise the whole process. The funding currently wasted on CQC could be reinvested in a locally rooted system where inspectors have real relationships with local population, like local Healthwatch.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE is a retired GP in Tameside

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Readers' comments (18)

  • So resources are tight, so lets build one of those 'cargo plane runways' with CQC, PCN, Appraisal and Revalidation and suchlike and keep everybody to busy to notice the shortfall while they are scrambling about in the mud wasting even more resources.
    'Brill Plan'
    Well it's working - so far?

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  • A few years ago I did the CQC inspector training, more to understand what I was about to face during my own inspection. However, the approach of the senior inspectors, many of whom were not clinicians, was toxic, aggressive and underhand. I told them politely I wasn’t interested in doing any work with/for them and walked away.
    A pointless witch-hunting quango.

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  • Socialism. A failed worldwide experiment. The people who will admit the truth will not be the ones who stand to benefit from it.

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  • Agree. A sustainable improvement in quality is only possible if there is a locally led system for continuous improvement of quality.
    CQC currently acts as a beurocratic spot checker which is expensive and does not improve quality. It just induces fear to get better. It must be replaced with a robust framework which support quality improvement in all health and care organisations which draws in scientific disciplines like QI, human factor etc as well as include patients and carers as integral part of improvement team locally.
    CQC must give way to quality improvement with a clear national framework but locally led with patient and carer involvement. Assurance will be the data (measurements for improvement) not bureaucracy.

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  • The CQC aren't going anywhere. The Pension will not improve. Workload and admin will get worse. Complaints will increase. Property services will screw you over. Re validation will continue to be painful and pointless.

    There will be opportunities to make money--OOHs, locum, CCG work, even CQC work for the morally bankrupt. GP Partners will continue to suffer. At some point you need to adapt and work smart. I'm not quite there yet as I'm trapped in the Partnership. I'm certainly not holding my breath for the CQC to change into a sensible supportive regulator. They are self serving opportunists who have no interest in improving General Practice.

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  • Spot on MERLIN

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  • come to locumland where you don't have to put up with this drivel ! neither do you have to pay your staff to photocopy records - for free - for highly paid lawyer's and other's "fishing trips" so that some clinician, somewhere, can be sued for what, in a large number of cases, is a failure of a system put in place by those who have invented the whole process to start with (but don't have to take any responsibility for any backlash they create !)

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  • Peter Swinyard

    CQC inspection this morning. I will leave Kailash's headline on my right hand computer screen when they come in to see me and, as always, ask for evidence of their effectiveness, usefulness etc. They managed to register "Better Health Partnership" in Swindon - the group of 5 IMH practices (including what was mine) as an entity a month before they became a legal entity. Quite an achievement.

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