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GP representatives vote to abolish ‘thoroughly ineffective’ CQC

By Gareth Iacobucci

LMC leaders have called for the Care Quality Commission to be abolished - but stopped short of calling for a boycott of practice registration after the GPC warned that such action would be illegal.

In a heated debate on the second day of their annual conference in London, LMC leaders voted that, in light of the recent BBC Panorama programme exposing the CQC's failure to investigate allegations of abuse in care homes, the body had 'shown itself to be a thoroughly ineffective organisation and it should be abolished without delay'.

Dr Mark Corcoran, director of Avon LMC, proposing the motion, said the action by LMCs was 'a vote of no confidence' in the CQC, while Dr Ivan Camphor, from Mid Mersey LMC, said: 'There is a national crisis of confidence in this organisation's ability to deliver on its functions'.

But a separate motion which called on the GPC to boycott registration until it can be shown to be 'appropriately simple and effective' was lost.

It came after Dr John Canning, GPC member and chair of the debate, warned: 'It would be illegal and inappropriate. We've worked very hard with the CQC. Part of the problem isn't CQC, it's the framework they've been given'.

But despite rejecting this specific aspect, GPs did not hold back in making clear their anger at the registration plans, demanding that any decisions made by the CQC are evidence-based, and that standards set for general practice are 'proportionate to the potential risk to patients in a primary care setting'.

GPs also called for individual GP practices not to be penalised by the CQC for failing to meet standards 'outside the control of the practice'.

Dr Russell Brown, chair of East Sussex LMC, described the registration process as 'a nightmare'.

'It's pointless bureaucratic nonsense, and takes us away from seeing our patients,' he said. 'It's expensive and paid for out of your profits, so it's a tax.'

Dr Bethan Rees, a member of Hertfordshire LMC, added: 'Our practice managers are throwing their arms up in horror. There is so much to do.'

In his address to the conference yesterday, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said the registration process was currently 'complex, burdensome and will be costly for GPs'.

'It is simply a tax on our income. If it is a tax that will ultimately depend on the taxman to pay up, why don't CQC and DH cut out the middle man and just let Treasury give the CQC the money they require to do their job?'

'Why doesn't the Government amend the legislation to enable CQC to be less prescriptive and make our lives easier? At present, the whole thing is too complex for its own good. It will be a creative writing exercise that will cost money and take GPs away from patient care. CQC have announced a delay in GP registration, but we must get the method of funding sorted as well as the compliance process before the green light is turned on again,' he said.

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