It’s not often the CQC gets praise on these pages, but credit where it’s due. The report on the effect of inspections for ethnic minority-led GP practices is necessary and better late than never.
As with many such reports, it concluded what many already knew: that inspections may ‘inadvertently disadvantage’ ethnic minority led GP practices and feel more like a ‘threat’ and a ‘punitive process rather than an opportunity to review, learn and grow’.
The main reason for this is that ethnic minority-run GP practices are more often in deprived areas and therefore have lower funding and face greater health inequalities, and are more likely to be run by single-handed GPs, resulting in ‘challenges in support, resourcing and capacity’.
There is so much to unpack here, and such a topic deserves a much wider discussion. But my overriding feeling is that the CQC are so close to understanding why all GPs – and ethnic minority GPs especially – are so wary of them.
Because it is bordering on scandalous that practices in deprived areas, with lower funding and greater health inequalities are more fearful of the regulator than practices in well off areas. Moreover, there is absolutely no reason that an organisation designed to improve standards should be perceived as a ‘threat’ or overseeing a ‘punitive process’.
There is a role for an organisation that supports GP practices in raising standards, that highlights how inequalities affect patient care and – instead of removing their registrations, giving them a damaging rating or providing fodder for local or national media to crucify GPs – has the power to positively address those inequalities.
I strongly believe that ethnic minority GPs do face different challenges to white colleagues, such as a greater number of complaints, and the CQC acknowledges this.
But I also believe that reforming the role of a standards body, and what powers they should have, would be the first major step to addressing these injustices, and will benefit general practice as a whole.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org