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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Chief GP inspector admits practices have received unfair CQC ratings

The CQC is ‘not as consistent’ as it should be with some practices inspected with more leniency than others, the head of GP inspections has admitted.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC, said some of the practices that have been rated as ‘requires improvement’ are ‘probably inadequate’ and not enough practices have been given an ‘outstanding rating’.

He said: ‘I’m pretty confident about the inadequate level. I think actually there are some in the requires improvement that are probably inadequate.

‘I put my hands up and say we’re not as consistent as we should be but we try very, very hard and I’m pretty confident about inadequate. I don’t think we’ve rated enough surgeries as outstanding actually.’

His comments come after the CQC’s State of Care report, which was published earlier this month, shows that GP practice ratings have continued to improve, despite already being the highest performing CQC-regulated sector.

While answering questions at the Best Practice conference today, Professor Field apologised to a delegate who complained that his practice was asked to change seat covers, curtains and children’s toys to meet inspectors’ requirement.

Professor Field said: ‘I’m sorry if it’s appeared both heavy handed or a bit inconsistent at times but we’re now learning and moving forward and much more focused.’ 

He said the watchdog is ‘trying to improve’ its consistency on judgements ‘to become much more reliable’. 

He said: ‘It’s the same problem with the college exam, it’s the same problem with O-levels or A-levels. Whatever assessment system you have it has to be valid. It has to be a setting for what we need to assess and it has to be reliable.

‘That’s why we’re spending a lot of time training the GPs that go in because, in nature, some of us are hawks and some of us are doves and what we need is a consistent approach.’ 

Professor Field added that the quality assurance framework for general practice has more steps than for adult social care inspections in an effort to enforce consistancy.

Readers' comments (21)

  • The beatings will continue etc etc etc,yawn yawn yawn.Who the heck polices the police.

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  • 4:52 - That is EXACTLY the point. Nobody does.
    Contrast with the GMC, NMC et al which are overseen by the PSA. But the CQC is not answerable to anyone.
    An unregulated regulator? Sound creepy to me.

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  • Vinci Ho

    ‘I put my hands up and say we’re not as consistent as we should be but we try very, very hard and I’m pretty confident about inadequate. I don’t think we’ve rated enough surgeries as outstanding actually.’

    Mmmmm, CQC intelligence is as good as this:
    Tony Blair and George W Bush + intelligence on WMD= War in Iraq.
    Well ,much damages were done but no problem, Saddam Hussein is dead now.

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  • With my practice they come down hard on paper work and trivia claiming there were safety issues:- We were castigated for not having references for staff who had been working with us for 20 years or a registrar we had ourselves trained and taken on. They then complained that we could not have a cup of tea in the consulting room and the window curtains had to be washed twice a year instead of our once annual regimen.
    We felt that they were petty and vindictive and could not see the larger picture. I wanted to make a big issue of this but my colleagues (probably wisely) stopped me. There is no redress to them and no one keeping an eye on them. Single handedly they have given our poor practice managers a heavy kicking. Ours produced somewhere around 1400 A4 pages of useless unread protocols to be compliant.
    What a stupid way to further damage fragile staff working under intense pressure.
    The only pleasure is to see how the government is now squirming as hospital after hospital get bad CQC reports and they paint a picture of the NHS in collapse. Perfect own goal....

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  • The Prof really is outstanding in his own Field and demonstrates a remarkable leniency for the unscientific suppositions in his own thought processes and expressed opinions. Throw in a good dose of intolerance - what a nice man👎🏻

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  • CQC is pointless, as every aspect of what it does is covered by other legislation, such as employment law, GMC, let alone tort. It definitely has different standards. I was astonished that is passed a prison healthcare service which is so dangerous, daily incidents, that some doctors refuse to work there. If it was a GP surgery it would have been correctly shamed and closed.

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  • My personal thoughts about CQC are generally as black or blacker than those already posted..
    But just to lob a grenade in.. why aren't opticians and pharmacies regulated as care givers in the community.
    In the spirit of fairness I would love to see CQC excoriate these areas with their key lines of enquiry... let's start with chemists giving flu jabs and repeat prescription ordering policies/ practices .. patient safety ..etc

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  • Cobblers

    Just before I left GP last year I took great pleasure in telling the CQC to Foxtrot Oscar.

    I closed my practice a few months later.

    Locuming is so much less stressful.

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  • I think we had it easy. 1 inspector and 1 GP. We’re a 2 site practice. They only went to 1 site, all done and dusted by 3pm.
    I was wondering where our thousands of pounds per year for CQC expenses were going, especially as we pay considerably more for being a duel site....

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  • Agree with all of the above.
    The Professor, can expound the virtues of General Practice, younger doctors do not want to enter general practice , patient demand is too great, lack of support from the RCGP and GMC, along with the demands for primary care to take on more work to assist secondary care, lack of investment from the DoH , perhaps we should all migrate to jobs in the CQC, CCG or NHSE but who would see the patients - perhaps the inspectors could have a go......

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