Columnist Dr Copperfield says if practices cannot define themselves as full, they are left with no choice but to increase the quantity of consultations by compromising their quality
Aha! Some clarity, and on two levels.
First, on the horribly fudged contractual point of whether, when we’re maxed out of appointments for the day, we can divert to 111 a) Never b) Whenever c) Only if running around like headless chickens wondering what comes after OPEL 4. And the answer, as far as the CQC is concerned, appears to be a resounding absolutely not, no way, never, don’t even think about it – assuming, that is, you don’t want your CQC Michelin stars taken from you.
Because a bunch of practices in Sussex have been downgraded to special measures for having on-the-day appointments filled by mid-morning, meaning receptionists were bouncing patients to A&E, pharmacies and 111. Cue the rest of the nation’s GPs nervously shuffling their feet and avoiding CQC eye contact.
And second, we now know what the CQC stands for. Or, more specifically, what CQC stands for. We always thought it was Care Quality Commission, right? But no, clearly it isn’t. It’s Care Quantity Commission. That appears to be the key measure. If patients have to be seen and we cannot define ourselves as full, we are left with no choice but to increase the quantity of consultations by compromising their quality. In other words, given that not even the CQC can dictate the length of a day, nor conjure up GPs when there are none, appointment lengths will have to shrink to a few minutes – roughly time to say ‘Hello’, ‘Have some antibiotics’ and ‘Goodbye’.
Result? Happy patients and happy CQC. Sure, it means we’ll be practising terrible and soul-destroying medicine, but never mind the quality etc. Besides, it’ll prime us for the Quantity Outcomes Framework that I assume will be introduced, too.
Dr Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of his blogs here