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RCGP pleads for GPs to locum in ‘inadequate’ practice as part of support package



Exclusive The RCGP has sent an email to GPs pleading for them to provide locum support for a practice placed in the CQC’s ‘special measures’ following an inspection, in a move the GPC says fails to ‘engender any confidence’ in the new support process given to struggling practices.

The email – which was sent to GPs as a part of an RCGP support package – said that a practice based in East Anglia was ‘desperately looking for a GP’, and is ‘willing to pay £600 a day’.

But the GPC attacked the wording of the email, and said it highlighted major problems with the special measures regime introduced by the CQC and the support provided to practices.

This is the first reported action of the pilot programme set up by the RCGP and NHS England, which offers practices a support package if they have received an overall CQC inspection rating of ‘inadequate’.

It had already come under criticism for charging practices £5,000 to access it – a figure described by the GPC as the ‘final straw’ for many practices – which will then be matched by the practice’s respective NHS England local area team.

The email, which was sent to scores of GPs in the region by the RCGP Special Measures Support Team, read: ‘A general practice in East Anglia which has been put into special measures is desperately looking for a GP who could see patients and also provide some clinical supervision for a GP.

‘They are willing to pay £600 a day and are ideally looking for someone for four days a week for the next four weeks.’

But the GPC’s contracts and regulation subcommittee Dr Robert Morley criticised the wording of the email.

Dr Morley said: ‘I’m rather surprised by the appearance of this email and particularly by the language used by the RCGP Special Measures Support Team. It certainly doesn’t engender any confidence in its capacity and capability to manage the support process.

‘This sort of thing just lends credence to the views of those who think that the whole idea of CQC’s special measures has been brought in without being properly thought through and without considering the consequences.’

Dr Helen Crawley, clinical lead for the RCGP Struggling Practices Programme, said: ‘GP advisors for the Special Measures Support Team are carefully selected to provide leadership and expertise in supporting practices that are in difficulty. They may call on other doctors or primary health workers from the local area to work alongside them on the “turnaround” team.

‘The costs of the RCGP advisors and turnaround team members contracted to the RCGP are covered by the £5k charged to each practice. The practice may choose to appoint new staff members or locums during turnaround or use additional sources of support. The RCGP team will liaise with the practice, all sources of support and key stakeholders.’

Earlier in the year, the CQC said that practices found to be inadequate by the CQC will immediately be put into special measures, and that there will no longer be a six-month period for practices to rectify problems before being put into special measures, although practices will still have a year before their registration is cancelled.