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The waiting game

GPC funding body drops judicial review against CQC

Exclusive A GP practice has dropped a judicial review into the CQC's practice inspection and appeals process, despite the support of the BMA, Pulse can reveal.

Pulse revealed in May that the GP Defence Fund (GPDF), the body which manages the GPC’s funding, had agreed to fund the case on behalf of an East Midlands practice, but it wrote to LMCs last month informing them that the case would 'no longer be pursued'.

The GPDF told Pulse that the decision to drop the legal action was taken by the practice, and the funding body had been keen to continue with the judicial review. 

The details of the case were not made clear, but when the GPDF announced it was taking on the case, it said the practice's 'inspection report and, subsequently, the ensuing appeal/review process was, in our view, not managed appropriately by the CQC'.

In its most recent letter, GPDF treasurer Dr John Canning said the threat of a judicial review had led to a review by the CQC of the inspection review, but he said this was not conducted 'to the GPDF's satisfaction'.  

It comes after the CQC was told last month to review its appeals process by a High Court judge.

The legal challenge was the first concrete move by the GPC to challenge the CQC’s processes after January’s Special LMCs Conference tasked it with finding a way to legally withdraw from CQC regulation.

But Dr Canning wrote to LMCs at the start of August to tell them that the case has been dropped following a decision ‘taken entirely by the members of the practice’.

The letter confirms the GPDF would have continued to support the judicial review, and Dr Canning says he understood this news would 'disappoint many of you'.

Pulse understands that the practice involved was going through a restructure at the time that the case was withdrawn.

The letter says: 'I am writing to inform you that the matter will no longer be pursued because of changed circumstances in the practice which mean that the [judicial review] JR cannot progress.

'I am sure this will disappoint many of you, but I wish to stress that this was a decision taken entirely by the members of the practice. Had this not been so the GPDF would have continued to fund the case to a hearing. As to costs the GPDF has agreed with CQC that each side will meet their own costs.’

‘While the JR claim was fully contested by the CQC, this JR claim led to a further review by the CQC, which was also not to the GPDF’s satisfaction.'

He added that it would 'not be appropriate to comment on the case further other than to stress that the inspection report and, subsequently, the ensuing appeal/review process was, in our view, not managed appropriately by the CQC and that the CQC acted in a manner which was neither fair, equitable, reasonable nor operating within the parameters of natural justice'.

Pulse revealed this month that a high court tribunal had ordered the CQC to review their appeals process, and should appoint an independent expert to review complaints rather than its own lead inspector.

The CQC told Pulse they had no further comment on the case.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Does anyone know what pressure was put on the practice - or if their circumstances had changed whether this was related to the CQC actions?
    The problem with depending on test cases to clarify issues is that it gives a huge incentive to pressurise the test case practice in other ways - including "reorganisation" so that the case does not proceed.
    Just not sure whether such pressure would come from CQC, NHS England or other members of TPTB.
    In the current NHS structure, what support - if any - is there for practices with any disputes with TPTB (The Powers That Be..)

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  • How feeble

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  • Hello to the member who wants to cancel his or her subs. to the BMA. Don't fell afraid.
    I have NEVER been a member of thr BMA nor the RCGP, nor any other, except the MPS, which is legally required. NO ONE will help when you are in trouble.What happened to this practice is unknown.
    It is obvious that this practice requested help from the BMA..For reasons unknown, they now do not require any help. They were going to sacrifice themselves for other GPs and themselves as well. However, they withdrew. This is their prerogative.
    But, at least, this practice has done a great service to all GPs. They have exposed the activities of the CQC. Beware, the witch hunt is on. If any GP is not 100% prepared for an inspection, and confident of success, resign now, and go abroad or seek employment elsewhere. Even natural justice is not for GPs any more. However, even greater tyrannies eg, the various empires, including the Greatest, the British Empire, have an end. So no one should lose hope.
    Retired GP

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  • 'As to costs the GPDF has agreed with CQC that each side will meet their own costs.’
    I wouldn't be surprised if the fact that they may have had to meet their court costs has put them off. It seems like a win-win situation for the CQC if practices wish to challenge their status or processes. The threat of incurring high court costs would be enough to deter anyone from taking them on unfortunately.

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  • The practice surrendered its NHS contract and closed down, thus legally had no business to sue the CQC

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  • we have just been through the morale sapping time wasting expensive business of a CQC inspection which found us 'in need of improvement' in various areas and to look at the bald traffic light system they use it looks like we are not very good. Fortunately we are extremely popular with the local patients and so many are trying to join our list we are having to close it. We were found wanting exclusively for non clinical issues such as written references not being done on a couple of staff, ditto DBS checks and verbal consent instead of written. they also did not like us checking our own water temp for legionaires (the official who came to do exactly what we did charged £350) and we only washed our window curtains once a year instead of twice. All these failings were not important for patient care and positives such as having appointments on same or next day and all partners being specialised were brushed over.
    The point I would like to make is that this box ticking nitpicking approach is exactly how NOT to motivate a workforce struggling under severe pressure and stress. We will survive as we have our patients support and we are confident in our service but how damaging is the CQC to struggling practices. There should be a concerted campaign to point out that the CQC are compounding the GP crisis and its also consuming huge amounts of time, good will, and money. CQC needs to stop their petty witch hunt. Any doctor working for them should hang their head in shame.

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