The problem with inspecting practices on whether their opening times match patients’ expectation is that there’s only so much you can squeeze from each worker even if they are GP.
I once saw a patient survey which asked ‘Would you like to see your doctor in the early morning, late evening, on Saturdays?’ I thought of my doctor, who as an overworked single-handed practitioner, would be exhausted.
If the CQC are reasonable in how much work they expect GPs to do, then fine. But if this is just another ploy by health secretary Jeremy Hunt to say GPs should work all hours of the day and night, then forget it.
The CQC are a regulatory body, not the contracting body. Is opening hours any of its business? Is it their role to police whether people take a lunchbreak, or leave at half seven? I would have thought NHS England already carry out that role and several people trying to do the same job always ends with tears.
The CQC haven’t manage to gain the profession’s respect doing what they’re supposed to be doing: inspecting. It’s a very confident organisation that tries to expand into other roles before it’s succeeded in its core responsibility.
Pretending to know what patients want is a very dangerous business. I’d like to see exactly how a CQC inspector would claim to know what patients want in terms of opening hours and then measure whether practices are meeting them.
Practices have a contractual obligation to provide core essential services between 8:30 and 18:00. If a practice is filling in its contractual obligations, then they should tell the CQC to get lost.
Dr Brian Balmer is medical secretary at North and South Essex LMCs