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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs begin legal battle to force reversal of CQC closure notices

Exclusive Two GP practices are taking the CQC to a tribunal in an effort to prevent the regulator from closing them down, Pulse has learnt.

The two practices have applied to the First-tier Tribunal, which hears cases against decisions made by Government departments and decisions made by the CQC.

The GPC said the legal case showed that the regulator had ‘lost the plot’ with the registration of GP practices and questioned the reason the two practices’ registration was refused.

The legal battle comes after five practices were refused registration by the regulator in April. Three of these practices have been closed by the CQC already. Only one of these appealed the decision, but their appeal was struck out after they did not turn up to make representations.

Pulse has learnt that the remaining two GP practices have since made representations to the CQC to reverse the decision, but the CQC would not grant registration so they have been forced to escalate their case to the First-tier Tribunal.

The CQC said they could not give the names of the practices involved, or information on why their registration was refused, but did confirm that the practices are currently open and continuing to practice.

A CQC spokesperson said they were not able to say if any patients had been told the practice’s CQC registration had been refused, but said ‘it is unlikely any public outreach happened’.

No hearing date for the tribunal has been set, the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, which runs the First Tier Tribunal, confirmed that if the practice wins their case then the CQC must register them. If they lose their appeal to the First-tier Tribunal they can appeal on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal, and further appeals can be made, with permission, to the Court of Appeal.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said: ‘I would hope the CQC have been judicious. If they’re being closed because they haven’t filled in some of the touchy feely wooly stuff then that’s bad. The CQC is beginning to lose the plot with the profession and is being heavy handed.’

Dr Kambiz Boomla, former chair of City and East London LMC urged caution so that a hasty decision is not made regarding closing a practice.

He said: ‘These procedures are all quite new and are being tested out for the first time. There’s a need for caution and to test out procedures to make sure no hasty decisions are made.’

But he added that the CQC were right not to make the names of the practices involved public: ‘It wouldn’t be fair to patients to make public the names of the practices that are perceived to be poorly performing, when because they are so new, it’s not clear whether standards by which they are judged are robust.’

Readers' comments (16)

  • So what happens to the patients from the closed practices then? Presumably they have to re-register elsewhere but this only works if there are few enough of them to be absorbed by the other GPs in the locality assuming they have the capacity. We certainly would struggle to take on 1000 patients at short notice if a large practice (circa 10 000 pts )went down. Do the CQC have to consider contingency planning and resource allocation?

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  • The whole way the media is portraying the state of the healthcare system is now corrupt, and just follows the political agenda.

    Not many people are aware that in the past three months, the CQC has issued closure notices on two private hospitals - BMI in Guildford and in Lister Surgicare in Stevenage, both for being so unsafe that patients' treatment was immediately suspended. They didn't even do that for Stafford...

    But this is reported in a small paragraph on page 10 of the newspapers

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  • While I agree that the practices involved should not be named before they are finally closed, is there any reason why reasons should not be given for the concerns - even after final closure?
    In the original pre-1.4.13 practice closures, it was stated specifically that it was not a question of GMC problems.
    Is there a reason why CQC won't state the grounds on which they will seek to close a practice rather than issue an improvement notice?

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  • The public are witnessing all this crap against GPs but I am not sure they realise the implications for their future, which is the most worrying conclusion from all this.

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  • Touchy feely wooly stuff? What would that be then?

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  • If the practice is deemed unsafe, patients must be told immediately. If not, then every patient should reach for an Injury for You lawyer and go for the CQC for non-disclosure and the GPs for negligence.

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  • Anon 1134
    You can only sue for negligence if you can prove you have suffered harm from an action or omission by the doctor.
    You cannot sue for negligence for non-disclosure of CQC status!

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  • Due to partner retiring recently we have had to apply for new lead for CQC.
    My practice manager will not consider touching this with a barge pole and the replacement partner cannot do the role as he is not yet a partner.
    That leaves me alone as the only candidate for the role.
    I have spent hours on the phone correcting irrelevant minor details, queuing with drug addicts at an inner city post office ( applicant has to attend approved centre for CRB checks ) , filling in forms on line, writing a CV!!!! - I haven't done that for over 20 years!!! AND NOW I find I have to be interviewed for an hour for the role !!!
    This, remember, is NOT part of the CQC assessment and we have already spent several thousands on improving our small surgery which I own.
    Why am I applying for a role that only I can do?
    This has put me close to the edge and I am closer to taking very early retirement.
    Why do we bother and do the higher authorities/government etc realise what damage these clowns are doing?

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  • Good regulation is light in touch but effective which requires common sense and some balance as no regulation Is not acceptable either.

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  • Dear Anonymous 12:42
    You had to queue with "drug addicts at a Post Office" - How demeaning for you! That you should have to consort with that sort of riff-raff just to complete a CRB check - I tell you what, lets not have any checks on any GP because we all know that no GP in history has every knowingly harmed a patient, embezzled funds or carried out any act which could be construed as illegal or unprofessional!
    Meanwhile, back in the real world.......

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