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Universities ‘using CQC risk bandings’ to gauge if practices ‘good enough’ for student placement

Exclusive GP leaders have expressed concern after hearing universities are using the CQC ‘intelligent monitoring’ data to decide where to send GP students on placement.

The GPC has been told that universities are already using the 1-6 ‘risk’ bandings to determine whether a practice is ‘good enough’ to take on their students, but said this was not an appropriate use of the ‘very limited’ data.

Health Education West Midlands told Pulse it has been approached by at least one university asking whether it should be using the data to gauge the suitability of practices, especially in the instances where they have not yet had a CQC inspection.

Approached by Pulse, a spokesperson for Health Education England (HEE) nationally said they would expect universities to make use of ‘all available information’ in their decision process.

The CQC’s intelligent monitoring data has come under heavy criticism from GP leaders as a rough measure based on QOF achievement and patient survey responses. Plagued by inaccuracies, the CQC has been forced to apologise to 60 practices after incorrectly labelling them as at high risk of providing poor care to patients but has refused to completely withdraw the publication.

Dr Martin Wilkinson, director of GP Education at HEE West Midlands, said: ‘I can confirm that we have had an enquiry about how universities assess suitability of practices for training and whether they should use CQC data or not, especially where a practice has not had a CQC visit.’

But Dr Robert Morley, GPC contracts and regulations lead, said he was told universities were already using the data in this way.

He said: ‘What I have been told verbally is that universities are using the intelligent monitoring rankings as a marker of whether practices are “good enough” to take their students on placements.’

He added: ‘Intelligent monitoring data as it currently exists is not appropriate information for this purpose, indeed for any purpose.

‘It uses a very limited set of indicators, some of which are not fit for purpose in the first place as measures of practice quality, and certainly not as measures for the suitability of placing medical students and applies them in exactly the same way to every practice totally devoid of context.

‘It is yet another example of this information being used in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons and another example of the damage it is causing.’

An HEE spokesperson said: ‘We would expect universities to use all available appropriate information to ensure that student and trainee placements are suitable.’

Last week, a Pulse analysis revealed that six of the seven GP practices to have been rated ‘inadequate’ under the new Ofsted-style CQC inspection regime had problems with GP recruitment.

The CQC has launched an internal audit ‘to understand the root causes of the mistakes’ surrounding the intelligent monitoring data, after the GPC declared the system ‘a shambles’.