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CQC visit ‘almost pleasant’, says Buckman

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has told Pulse that it was 'almost a pleasant experience' to be visited by the CQC, after taking part in a pilot to test the inspection process.

Last month, the regulator revealed that thousands of GPs had started the registration process by setting up their online account ahead of the requirement to be registered by 1 April 2013. Once registered, practices will be inspected every two years.

The GPC chair, whose practice took part in a pilot inspection, said the process was not the torturous affair some had feared, despite the fact he was given only 48 hours' warning.

He told Pulse: ‘The image that one was given by the doomsayers of CQC was almost [that a] Nazi policeman was going to come round and smash up your practice, and because your biros were the wrong colour, the building was going to be closed down and you would never work again. Of course that's rubbish.

‘It was almost a pleasant experience. It certainly wasn't nasty.'

He said he was also assured that CQC inspectors would need patient consent to look at medical records, after Pulse revealed that the CQC believed they were legally able to access patients' medical records without their consent under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

‘When I asked the person who did the CQC visit, they said that if they were ever looking at patient records they would need the patient's consent before they do it, so I was satisfied with that,' he said.

In a dispatch published in Bromley LMC's August newsletter, Dr Buckman described the inspection process in more detail.

He wrote: ‘A reasonable woman appeared, spent six hours in the practice, asked many questions and left us with an almost glowing report. She looked at all our policy papers (and said there were too many and a few were too generic); was interested in minor ops until I told her of our low infection rate and that we used only disposable instruments.

‘She asked a lot about safeguarding and consenting incompetent adults (I had never heard of "best interest" meetings for all parties to consider their interests); looked at our repeat prescribing processes and our fail-safe follow-up of cervical smears; and interviewed a number of patients in the waiting room. Occasionally she asked if we had considered different approaches to things.'