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CQC inspections of online GP services unfair, private provider claims

Push Doctor, a private provider of £25 GP video consultations, has argued that CQC inspections of online providers are ‘unfair’.

The company made the claim following CQC’s admission that its inspections were ‘not as consistent’ as they should be.

GP chief inspector Professor Steve Field recently said some services which should have been rated ‘inadequate’ may have received a ‘requires improvement’ rating.

He also said more practices probably deserved an ‘outstanding’ rating than the number which received one.

A CQC inspection report earlier this year said Push Doctor was ‘not providing safe, effective, or well-led services’. It said Push Doctor needed to make improvements to services including recording systems and training of staff.

However, Push Doctor founder and chief executive Eren Ozagir told Pulse that it found CQC inspectors ‘did not understand the difference between digital and traditional GPs, and assessed services using criteria that hadn’t been formally published and shared with providers’.

He claimed that ‘this led to digital providers experiencing unfair treatment in the first, and so far only, round of inspections, and no doubt caused many people to question the suitability of this new model of care’.

He added: ‘I welcome Professor Steve Field’s recognition that the CQC must improve inspector training and consistency. This is particularly true in the area of digital primary care.’

He went onto welcome a new CQC working group examining more closely the regulation of online providers.

He said: We are pleased the CQC are now engaging with digital providers, and hope the new working group proves beneficial for everyone.

‘We are confident that together we can make sure regulation prioritises patient safety, whilst supporting the growth of digital primary care and unlocking the many benefits this new model of care can have for patients and general practice more broadly.’

Prof Ursula Gallagher, deputy chief inspector of general practice said the CQC ‘always want to improve how we do what we do and to ensure that we are helping the system to improve and innovate’.

She said: ‘We do this in conjunction with our role of ensuring that irrespective of the method of delivery, the fundamental standards of care apply and patient safety cannot be compromised. Regulation is about more than just inspections and working to these standards is something services agree to do every day when they register as health care providers.

‘Patients being supported online deserve the same standards of quality and safety as they would see in more traditional GP settings and we are extremely pleased to be working with the sector through our provider forum to tackle any challenges around this and promote innovation together.’