Failing GP practices are creating false accounts and posting positive reviews on NHS Choices before their CQC inspection, according to the chief inspector of primary care.
Professor Steve Field told the audience of a keynote debate at the Best Practice conference in Birmingham on Wednesday that whistleblowers had alerted the CQC to the problem.
He added that subsequent inspections often conclude the practice ‘probably shouldn’t exist’.
Professor Field was addressing the issue of NHS Choices after announcing that the CQC would be publishing its ‘intelligent monitoring’ data on GP practices on its own website and on NHS Choices.
Pulse reported earlier this month that the intelligent monitoring will include details of GP prescribing rates, and will be used to identify which practices should be prioritised for inspection.
Professor Field said that NHS Choices was often not useful for the CQC.
He told delegates: ‘The feedback from the patients on NHS Choices is not good at the moment. We know, through whistleblowers, that some GPs have been filling in lots of things that say the practice is good, at the time when we see the practice and it probably shouldn’t exist.
‘We looked at one this morning, it wasn’t a good practice but there were great, outstanding comments, and then “this is the worst thing we’ve ever been to”. I don’t like that at all, but we need to understand that patient feedback is really important and a lot of this data is based on the patient survey, as it is at the moment.
‘There’s a very big group of practices in this region, who are starting to use an app to get real-time patient feedback. So the reality is, whatever you do there’s going to be feedback.’
When Pulse asked about the incidences of whistleblowing, Professor Field explained there was a single incident ‘six months ago’ but would not confirm the nature of any subsequent action by the CQC.