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GPs begin legal battle to force reversal of CQC closure notices

Exclusive Two GP practices are taking the CQC to a tribunal in an effort to prevent the regulator from closing them down, Pulse has learnt.

The two practices have applied to the First-tier Tribunal, which hears cases against decisions made by Government departments and decisions made by the CQC.

The GPC said the legal case showed that the regulator had ‘lost the plot’ with the registration of GP practices and questioned the reason the two practices’ registration was refused.

The legal battle comes after five practices were refused registration by the regulator in April. Three of these practices have been closed by the CQC already. Only one of these appealed the decision, but their appeal was struck out after they did not turn up to make representations.

Pulse has learnt that the remaining two GP practices have since made representations to the CQC to reverse the decision, but the CQC would not grant registration so they have been forced to escalate their case to the First-tier Tribunal.

The CQC said they could not give the names of the practices involved, or information on why their registration was refused, but did confirm that the practices are currently open and continuing to practice.

A CQC spokesperson said they were not able to say if any patients had been told the practice’s CQC registration had been refused, but said ‘it is unlikely any public outreach happened’.

No hearing date for the tribunal has been set, the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, which runs the First Tier Tribunal, confirmed that if the practice wins their case then the CQC must register them. If they lose their appeal to the First-tier Tribunal they can appeal on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal, and further appeals can be made, with permission, to the Court of Appeal.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said: ‘I would hope the CQC have been judicious. If they’re being closed because they haven’t filled in some of the touchy feely wooly stuff then that’s bad. The CQC is beginning to lose the plot with the profession and is being heavy handed.’

Dr Kambiz Boomla, former chair of City and East London LMC urged caution so that a hasty decision is not made regarding closing a practice.

He said: ‘These procedures are all quite new and are being tested out for the first time. There’s a need for caution and to test out procedures to make sure no hasty decisions are made.’

But he added that the CQC were right not to make the names of the practices involved public: ‘It wouldn’t be fair to patients to make public the names of the practices that are perceived to be poorly performing, when because they are so new, it’s not clear whether standards by which they are judged are robust.’