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GP takes legal action against CQC in effort to re-open his practice

Exclusive A GP is taking the CQC to a tribunal to re-open his practice after disputing several of regulator’s inspection findings, in the first legal action taken by a GP against the regulator.

Dr Mujib ul Haq Khan of Granville Road Surgery in London – whose practice was rated ‘inadequate’ by the CQC – claims a number of the regulator’s reasons for taking the unusual decision to withdraw his registration were incorrect, including patients being put at avoidable risk, no employment checks of staff, and no structure in place for the reporting of incidents.

This represents the first time legal action has been taken against the regulator by a GP, although several secondary care and care home providers have taken action.

GP leaders have said that any successful legal action against CQC would be ‘absolutely enormous’, and could subsequently embolden other practices to consider similar action.

The CQC inspected Dr Khan’s practice on 6 January and identified several failings, rating it ‘inadequate’ in dealing with all six population groups, including elderly and vulnerable patients, and in how safe, effective and well-led the practice was.

It subsequently returned to the practice on 9 January to personally deliver a ‘Notice of Urgent Suspension’, which led to the practice being closed.

But according the care standard tribunal pleading document, due to be heard on 25 March, Dr Khan ‘denies the alleged breaches and/or that any such breach provided reasonable cause for the CQC to take such drastic action to suspend the practice.’  

The pleading document also points to the regulator’s inspection findings that Dr Khan was ‘very well-liked and respected by his patients’ and that his patients had provided ‘favourable feedback on the service they have received.’

The allegations that Dr Khan denies include:

  • Patients were put at avoidable risk because suitable arrangements to monitor safety were not in place;
  • Checks on staff had not been undertaken prior to their employment;
  • Staff were not clear about reporting incidents
  • The practice did not have systems in place for responding to risk, including an accurate fire risk assessment and staff to be clear about how to respond in the event of a fire.

The GP also claims that the surgery was being operated by locums who ‘were qualified and experienced’ and that they knew how to report incidents – and the CQC has yet to provide anything to the contrary.

Dr Robert Morley, chair of the GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee, told Pulse: ‘I’m unable to comment on the facts of this individual case but clearly this is a very significant development and the outcome will be of huge interest to the profession.’

He went on to add that any successful legal action against the regulator could open the doors to more practices to take similar action.

‘I would  imagine that if any practice were successful in taking legal action against the CQC following judgements it made in an inspection then the repercussions would be absolutely enormous  both for general practice and for the CQC. It would almost certainly embolden other practices to consider similar action as well as encourage the CQC to take a long hard look at its processes,’ said Dr Morley.

A spokesperson for the CQC said: ‘Due to the legal process surrounding the case of Dr Khan, we would be unavailable for comment until after the tribunal process is completed.’  

The first one day tribunal hearing between the CQC and Dr Khan will take place in London on 25 March.

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