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Fifth of GP practices inspected by the CQC found to be ‘non-compliant’

Exclusive: More than a fifth of the GP practices inspected so far by the CQC have been found to be non-compliant with essential standards, show figures that the regulator claims indicate a higher standard than other NHS providers.

The figures show that the CQC inspected 283 primary medical service providers as of the 12 August, and 64 of these (23%) were found to be non-compliant against at least one essential standard.

But the CQC said they had inspected the most risky practices first, and that they expected the overall level of non-compliance for GPs to be lower than that for hospitals and care homes. A CQC spokesperson said that as of April 2013, 20% of care homes were found to be non-compliant.

The figures come as the regulator admitted it was struggling to complete the expected number of inspections since April, and was drafting in ‘bank’ inspectors and authorising staff to work overtime to clear the backlog.

Back in April the CQC announced that exactly a fifth of practices declared themselves non-compliant against at least one essential standard as part of the registration process. Premises and infection control were the most problematic areas, with 810 practices declaring non-compliance on premises and 863 for infection control.

Practices had to submit action plans to the CQC detailing how they would achieve compliance, with a CQC spokesperson saying the regulator expected most practices to become compliant within six months.

A CQC spokesperson said the initial figures indicate that, overall, primary medical service providers were likely to have a quite a low level of non-compliance.

He said: ‘Sixty-four providers is quite a low level. It’s not representative of the whole sector. If you spread that out across 8,000 practices it look as though GPs are going to come in at a lower level of non-compliance that other sectors, which is what we expected.’

The CQC corporate performance report in June indicates that the regulator’s inspection programme for GPs has fallen behind schedule, inspecting less than half of the number of practices they had planned in the inspection schedule laid out in their 2013/14 business plan.

The report said they had authorised staff to work overtime to catch up, and were recruiting ‘bank’ inspectors to speed up inspections across all the health and social care sectors.

The CQC said ‘bank’ inspectors are clinical and professional experts who they can call on for advice by telephone, email or who can accompany inspectors on inspections. They could not confirm whether the bank inspectors called on to inspect GP practices would all be clinicians.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Most practices won’t worry about the CQC getting round to them slower than expected. They’d rather they didn’t come at all.

‘There might be concerns over bank staff. They would want to know that these inspectors have the necessary qualifications, experience and attitude so we don’t get inappropriate box ticking and clipboard inspections, which wouldn’t be helpful.’