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Independents' Day

RCGP calls for immediate halt to CQC inspections

The RCGP has ramped up the growing pressure on the CQC by calling for an ‘emergency pause’ in CQC inspections to relieve pressure on ‘crisis-hit’ practices and avoid risks to patient safety.

At the weekend, the RCGP’s governing council voted overwhelmingly in favour of an emergency motion calling for an immediate pause in the CQC’s programme of routine inspections, in order for practices to better manage their workloads.

As a result of the motion, the college has sent an open letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt detailing its concerns.

It follows the college’s own blueprint for general practice, which called for a review of the CQC’s role.

The call also intensifies the pressure on the regulator, following yesterday’s support for a motion at the BMA Annual Representatives Conference calling for the CQC to be decommissioned and the funding to be reinvested in frontline services.

The RCGP motion said pausing the inspection regime would free up time for GPs who are already struggling to cope with rocketing patient demand in the face of an acute GP shortage – a combination that is putting patient safety at risk.

In the letter to Mr Hunt, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said that the burdens being placed on GPs by the CQC inspection regime, along with pressures to provide seven-day access for routine care, are ‘undermining’ efforts to turn around the current crisis in general practice.

She wrote: ‘In the view of RCGP Council, the current inspection process tends to focus on those things that can be most easily documented and generates considerable additional clinical and administrative activity for practices.’

The letter reiterated the college’s call for ‘an urgent review of the CQC’s regulatory regime, to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy’.

It added: ‘Whilst this takes place, we call for the CQC’s programme of routine inspections to be halted on a temporary basis, as a means of alleviating the pressures on general practice which have now reached such an extent that they are giving rise to serious patient safety concerns.’

Dr Baker said this would not prevent the CQC from inspecting practices ‘where specific reasons existed for doing so, for instance were a practice to be subject to a significant level of complaints’.

The motion at the BMA’s Annual Representatives Meeting was taken as ‘reference’ – meaning it won’t become official BMA policy – but GP leaders argued that it showed the strength of feeling against the regulator from the whole medical profession.

It followed a similar scenario at the recent LMCs Conference, where a motion calling for the abolition of the CQC was passed as policy.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC and a former chair of the RCGP, said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that the Royal College of General Practitioners has called for an “emergency pause” to our inspections of general practices, which we carry out to make sure that people across England get safe, high-quality and compassionate primary care. The safety and quality of care of people who use these services continue to be our number one priority.

He added: ‘When over 1 in 7 general practices are not delivering the care that patients have every right to expect, now is not the time for us to put a halt on our inspections.

‘As a practising GP, I have never intended for our inspections to be experienced as a burden to those in the profession – and for a well-managed practice, the information we ask them to provide should not present itself as one.’

Readers' comments (17)

  • It's never going to happen. No Minister in normal times will ever call off a regulator. Never. And since the CQC pressure is part of Jeremy Hunt's plan to dismantle NHS General Practice, he has double reason for not calling off the CQC, if anything he will make it increase its pressure to speed up the achievement of his goal.

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  • At least the RCGP are raising this!

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  • Most proactive thing we've seen from the RCGP for some time. A small step in the right direction.

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  • Dear RCGP: thanks for raising this concern. Really appreciate that you have shown signs that you are prepared to fight for grassroot GPs.

    The GP I idolise wants to retire before he even hits 60yrs. He is a GP trainer, VTS tutor and course organiser, he feels he cannot cope with the pressures he is put under.
    We asked a locum GP to join us as a partner: got declined.

    can you also explain the 10million profit?

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  • Nhsfatcat

    Dear RCGP,
    Are you shutting down the service you provide to support CQC failed practices?
    If not then you're complicit in accepting CQCs decisions and raking fees from practices to get them to a standard for inspection that you think may harm patient safety..

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  • RCGP need to propose an alternative model and a regulator for mangers and the likes of Jeremy Hunt. Backed up with US style legislation so that if concerns are ignored or whistleblowers targeted you get up to 10 years in the slammer.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • are they hoping we will forget about the 10 million by speaking up for us for a change?

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  • I can confirm that for the inspection of our surgery there was the loss of:

    330 appointments with GPs for preparation and on the inspection day.

    Who can top that?

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  • loss of 330 appointments = failed tick box on availability

    be prepared to be shut down !

    computer says nooo !

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