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BMA urges CQC to stop monthly GP practice safety reviews


CQC inspections


The BMA has said it is ‘seriously concerned’ about CQC’s remote monthly GP practice safety reviews that launched this month.

Last month, a draft document revealed that the regulator planned to start carrying out remote checks on each GP practice every month to assess its risk to patients in July.

CQC guidance updated last week confirmed that the new approach has launched, which will see the regulator publish an update on its website if a practice is deemed low-risk.

However, the BMA has called for the CQC to continue with its Emergency Support Framework (ESF) launched in response to the pandemic in May 2020, which saw it phoning to check in with GP practices.

In the latest GP Committee bulletin, it said: ‘The BMA is seriously concerned about this new approach and has raised this with the CQC directly. 

‘Practices will understandably be anxious about the implications, particularly when they are struggling with record demand and significant workload pressures.’

It added: ‘While CQC has a legal responsibility to inspect health care providers and ensure the safety of services to patients, it has been doing this throughout the pandemic through its emergency support framework. 

‘We have called for a continuation of this ESF approach which is much more proportionate and have misgivings about a move towards greater inspection numbers linked to a risk stratification approach that is new and not widely trialled.’

The CQC was forced to withdraw the ‘risk banding’ element of its intelligent monitoring scheme in 2015, after it admitted that it recognised patients would have instead perceived the publication of the bandings as a judgement of the quality of care.

It comes as a major report published today warned that a doubling of winter hospital admissions for flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is set to ‘intensify GP pressure’ and called for a halt on CQC inspection altogether.

The regulator announced it was pausing routine inspections at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, but asked GP practices to welcome CQC inspectors again from 19 October under its ‘transitional’ regulatory approach based on ‘risk’.

It then announced it would resume some of its GP practice inspections from April that had been paused because of the pandemic.

In May, the BMA also called for the CQC to reconsider its ‘crude’ inspection rating system in response to the regulator’s publication of a new strategy.