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Three practices to be put in special measures by CQC

Three GP practices will be put into special measures this week after being given a rating of ‘inadequate’, the CQC has said.

In board papers released before its meeting on Wednesday 21 January, the regulator said it expects to publish the first reports of inadequate ratings the following day, and has been working closely with NHS England to support the practices.

The CQC announced only last week that practices found to be inadequate by its inspectors will be immediately put in special measures, having previously offered them a six-month period of grace to improve.

The regulator had previously refused to register two practices, meaning they had to close down, as part of its original inspection regime.

But this is the first time that practices have been found to be inadequate as part of the new regime, introduced in October 2014.

The regulator has previously said that a pilot of the new regime had so far identified 200 practices that are ‘failing’, with a ‘handful of surgeries’ being shut down straight away and ‘scores more’ being given a year to improve.

Under the new procedures, practices are given ratings of ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’, similar to the Ofsted ratings given to schools.

The CQC board paper said: ‘During quarter 3 [October 2014 to December 2014], 728 comprehensive general ratings inspections were conducted and 56 in quarter 4 to date. We have published 69 ratings reports, three of which were outstanding, 56 were good and 10 required improvement.’

It added: ‘We expect to publish our first inadequate ratings reports and identify three practices that will move into special measures on 22 January 2015; we are working closely with local NHS England teams, who will provide support for the practices concerned.’

Last week, the CQC said 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.

It has said that practices will have access to a range of support ‘at the earliest opportunity’, which is being developed alongside NHS England and the RCGP.

However, Pulse has previously reported that they could have to pay up to £5,000 to access such support.

The regulator first announced it was introducing ‘special measures’ for GP practices in August 2014.

The ratings are based on how well practices perform in a series of ‘domains’, such as how caring they are and how well led they are, with reference to different population groups, such as elderly vulnerable patients and families.   

Pulse reported yesterday that the CQC and GMC will carry out joint inspections on GP practices if both regulators have concerns about a practice, in a new agreement which aims to increase the sharing of information between both organisations.