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GPC calls for withdrawal of controversial CQC risk data from DH website

Exclusive The Department of Health has put the controversial CQC ‘intelligent monitoring’ data onto its new website allowing patients to compare NHS services against one another, despite the GPC’s claims that the data remains ‘grossly misleading’ and should be withdrawn.

The myNHS site now has a symbol indicating quality for most GP practices in England on metrics such as cancer screening, dementia diagnosis and accessibility, with practices getting either a red circle with an exclamation point in it, a blue circle which says ‘OK’, or a green circle with a tick in it.

It uses the CQC’s intelligent monitoring data, which is based on a combination of indicators such as QOF scores and responses to the patient survey, which caused a storm in the GP profession with GP leaders calling it misleading to rate practices ahead of having had a CQC inspection.

It was later proved to be inaccurate, with CQC forced to admit they had used patient survey responses ‘the wrong way round’, and the CQC has apologised to 60 practices that were marked as a high risk of providing poor care as a result.

Although CQC said those errors have now been amended, GP leaders still blasted the DH’s decision to go ahead with plans to put the data on myNHS, revealed by Pulse last month, and further spreading the data – branded ‘quality indicators’ – to the public because they are ‘misleading’.

And Devon LMC interim medical secretary Dr Mark-Sanford Wood suggested the data still included inaccuracies for some practices as many GPs were rated risky in his area because they opted out of QOF, meaning they failed on many of the CQC’s indicators.

The CQC have said the data were never meant to be used as quality indicators but did not see a problem with the DH using them on MyNHS.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘The myNHS data provides distorted information about GP practices that will do nothing to improve patient care and will positively mislead patients. It is drawn from flawed CQC intelligent monitoring data, which the CQC itself confusingly has admitted does not reflect the quality of care a practice provides.

‘The GPC has formally objected to this simplistic and flawed categorisation of GP practice data from the outset. If the Government is intent on providing patients with transparency, it should withdraw the myNHS data and begin discussions on how we can build a system that gives a fair assessment of the quality of care general practice provides.’

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘It is important that patients have transparent and meaningful information about the care provided by their GP practice but this information must be accurate.

‘Practices are still reeling from the ill-advised publication of flawed CQC bandings – which had no proven link to outcomes of practice inspections and was nothing more than a blow to morale in general practice.

‘We are concerned that any public information based on these ratings are misleading to patients, especially at a time when we should be concentrating on re-establishing our patients’ trust and confidence in their GP practice.’

Dr Sandford-Wood, who wrote to the CQC to highlight the oversight regarding Devon practices’ QOF opt out, said: ‘Devon has not received a formal reply as yet from CQC. We note the apology they made to 60 practices, but this was not related to the issues of methodology that was raised by Devon LMC.’

A CQC spokesperson said: ‘Intelligent Monitoring – which is a small part of the MyNHS portal – does not provide a rating or judgement, but it may raise questions which should be explored during an inspection. Only after an inspection has taken place are we able to provide a definitive view of whether a service is Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or is Inadequate.’

‘Over time and once we have rated more services, we would expect these judgements to be available on myNHS instead of our Intelligent Monitoring bandings, so that members of the public have a clear picture of what we have found.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘Thousands of GPs offer excellent care for their patients. But we want all patients to get the very best from the NHS and more transparent reporting on GP practices, supported by a tough new inspection regime, will challenge GPs to improve further.’