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CQC rethinks GP registration plans

By Edward Davie

The Care Quality Commission has submitted a series of proposed amendments to how it will regulate GP practices to the Department of Health.

The regulator said the changes would allow it 'more opportunity to embed compliance monitoring in the sectors we already regulate' and would ensure closer alignment between registration and practice accreditation. But it insisted the 'scope of regulation' for GPs would remain unchanged.

The amendments come after GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman voiced 'serious concerns' about the CQC's 'unrealistic' registration requirements. Dr Buckman was speaking as the BMA released more than 100 pages of guidance on how to fill in the registration forms. Click here to read the full BMA guidance on CQC registration.

A CQC spokesperson said: 'The CQC has proposed changes to its plans for registration of primary care medical services to the Department of Health. The aim is to try to improve the process for GPs, to give the CQC more opportunity to embed compliance monitoring in the sectors we already regulate, and to ensure registration is more closely aligned with accreditation schemes.'

'Registration will open in October 2011 for dedicated "out of hours" services, but the timing and make up of subsequent batches is still to be confirmed.'

'We will make a further announcement about our plans in June. We will ensure providers have enough time to prepare for registration. There are no plans to change the scope of regulation - all primary care medical services will have to register with CQC.'

Dentists have already reported significant delays in the CQC registration process, with the British Dental Association describing the process as 'shambolic' But the CQC spokesperson said the April 2012 registration deadline for GPs was set out in primary legislation and would not be moved.

Dr David Rooke, a GP in Taunton, Somerset and chair of the interim Somerset GP commissioning consortium, said he and fellow primary care managers would be ‘delighted' if the process was simplified.

'This CQC registration is a major hoop to jump through,' he said. 'It is very complex because they have simply taken the model developed for dentists and pasted it onto primary care which has not been appropriate.'

At a press conference yesterday, Dr Buckman said that the current CQC registration process would distract GPs from patient care and urged the regulator to simplify it.

'The CQC's expectations for demonstrating compliance are unrealistic. They will be a huge administrative burden and it will end up taking GPs away from seeing patients; the self-assessment form is too complicated and the nature of the questions means that GPs are likely to feel like they are taking part in a creative writing exercise, which is not the correct way to demonstrate compliance.'

'We will be urging the CQC to make the process simpler and to make further changes. So in the mean time I would urge GPs to use this toolkit to collect their thoughts, but we would advise them not to start significant work on demonstrating compliance.'

'Equally, at this stage, practices should not employ third parties to do the work for them. Registration is important but it is just as important that the workload is reasonable and appropriate,' he said.

Click here to read the full BMA guidance on CQC registration.

Story updated at 15:10

Dr Laurence Buckman