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New look CQC inspections will be ‘stressful and expensive’

The new CQC inspections will be time-consuming, stressful and expensive for GPs, the GPC’s lead on contracts and regulations warned delegates at the Pulse Live conference in London today.

Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of the Birmingham LMC and GPC member, said the new ‘regime’ would be even more ‘rigorous’ than the previous inspection process, which was replaced this month.

He also stressed that problems with the new ‘Ofsted-style’ ratings system – which lets practices be classified as outstanding, good, needs improvement, or inadequate – could have a ‘negative effect’ on GP morale.

Professor Steve Field, the chief inspector of primary care, introduced the new regime this month, which is in pilot stage until October.

Key changes he introduced include a GP on all inspection teams, and sending letters to patients in the practice area notifying them of the inspection’s outcome.

But Dr Morley warned that there was a concern that practices will face problems when the regime is up and running.

He explained the GPC had intended for it to be ‘non-bureaucratic’ and ‘non-costly’ but that the changes to the registration process – which had already caused GPs problems – were ‘worrying’.

Dr Morley said: ‘We’re now in a new era starting this month. What’s clear is that everything is going to be more rigorous.’

‘The registration process is going to be more rigorous including something called the “fit and proper persons test”, which basically means whoever’s running the practice, the partners in effect, need to show they’re fit and proper people to be providing the service. This, to me is worrying.’

Dr Morley added the four ratings leave a ‘gulf’ between a ‘good’ practice and a practice which ‘requires improvement’ which he was concerned would leave lots of practices in the latter category.

He said: ‘Now we know that the idea of this is to improve the standard of care if it’s going to have a negative effect on practices, if it’s going to reduce morale, and lead to [more negative] stories in the press […]I think it’s going to have an overall negative effect on the morale of the profession, and perhaps on the future of those practices.’

CQC chief executive David Behan has previously said: ‘Over the past six months we set out proposals for different types of care services and we have been testing our new style inspections in hospitals, mental health and community health services and will be testing them in adult social care services and GP practices from this month.’

‘The changes we are making are vital to ensuring that we are able to make sure that health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high quality care and encourage care services to improve. Throughout these changes, we will always be on the side of people who use services and it is important to us that we hear what people think of our plans.’