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GPs threatened with breach of contract over CQC preparations

LMC leaders have been ‘deluged’ by complaints from GP practices after managers threatened them with breach of contract over their preparations for CQC registration.

Pulse has learnt that NHS Manchester has sent remedial letters to practices, with threats of breach of contract notices, related to CQC standards.

The CQC said the move was ‘scaremongering’ and advised PCTs to stop threatening practices over aspects of registration that had ‘no basis in fact’.

The GPC also said it had ‘repeatedly’ heard reports of practices being set inappropriate standards related to premises and infection control and have advised GPs to seek help from their LMC if they are also affected.

GP practices are currently undergoing CQC registration from September through to December this year, but the regulator has warned that it is still receiving reports that PCTs have been exaggerating the requirements practices need to adhere to.

Dr John Hughes, chair of Manchester LMC, said he had recently had a ‘deluge’ of unhappy GPs contacting the LMC after remedial notices were issued over their preparations for CQC registration.

He said: ‘If there is breach of contract, it is up to the PCT to prove it and not for us to prove compliance.

‘We have asked them on numerous occasions to show us where in the regulations it shows the practice is in the breach of contract and they have not done that.

‘They simply refer to the Disability Discrimination Act and various other acts that are not part of the GP contract. It’s not within their remit to decide what is part of CQC regulations’

He added his own practice had wall-mounted paper dispensers installed, and they sent the PCT invoices to show the work had been done. ‘But they demanded we sent photographs,’ he added.

Dr Richard Vautrey, a GPC negotiator, said the GPC had ‘repeatedly’ heard of examples where PCTs ‘are setting inappropriate standards related to premises and infection control which are sometimes deliberately being confused with CQC standards’. 

He said: ‘CQC are very clear what standards they will apply and they are far more reasonable and realistic than some of those being pushed by PCTs in their dying days.

‘Practices who feel their PCT is acting unreasonably should be involving their LMC.’

A CQC spokesperson said: ‘Any rumours that practices will have to rip up carpets in surgeries, have mounted paper dispensers removed, or have to change the height of reception desks for disability discrimination issues are nonsense and have no basis in fact.

‘This and other rumours such as soft furnishings and toys in waiting rooms needing to be removed due to infection issues control are absolutely false.’

The spokesman said that these matters were ‘not likely to cause the CQC any concern, or lead to non-compliance’.

‘The Commission is aware that some PCTs have been saying this to practices and would encourage anyone who has encountered this behaviour to pass that information on to the CQC who will advise the PCT that their advice is wrong and should stop scaremongering in this way,’ he added.

NHS Manchester was offered the opportunity to comment, but did not respond in time.

What the CQC regulations state

Condition 10A: ensure the premises are adequate

  • Ensures the premises are suitable for the regulated activity.
  • Takes account of identified risks.
  • Meets the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated regulations and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and other relevant legislation.
  • Ensures the premises protect people’s rights to privacy, dignity, choice, autonomy and safety.
  • Ensures the premises have space, heating, lighting and ventilation that conform to relevant and recognised standards.