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Letter: CQC inspector recruitment was a farce

From Dr David Riley, retired GP, Canterbury

I retired from general practice in April 2012 after a 30-year career as a GP and when the CQC advertised for inspectors in April 2013 I immediately emailed them to volunteer. I knew about the pressures within general practice and felt I could do a good job both finding problem areas and protecting practices from irrelevant demands from the CQC itself. I expected no pay but expected that expenses were would be given.

I heard nothing more, not even an acknowledgement, until August when I received an email apologising for not responding. In October I received two more emails – again apologising for no contact but, as with previous emails, neglecting to provide any information.

Nothing further was heard until late March this year when another email requested my CV, biography and references. I sent them back with a note expressing my disappointment about the poor contact and lack of information – at least, even, a job description. One week the CQC supplied a woolly job description.

In late April I received a call from a CQC representative, wanting to set up a telephone interview for the role. When I expressed my shock at their lack of professionalism she told me that she had done over 200 interviews and that I was the first to complain, but she would escalate my complaint to her superior.

The following week I had a call from Steve Field’s office and I finally got some answers. The person on the phone informed me that if I was recruited, my training would consist of attending an ‘academy’ (she couldn’t say where my nearest was) plus online tuition. When I was ‘trained’, the CQC would pay me a fee to inspect practice, but would not pay any expenses.

She then asked if I was available to be fast-tracked access to the online tuition, so that in two weeks’ time to inspect a practice in London? The inspection team would consist of me, she said, and a local manager (if they could find one). And if I couldn’t do that, then please could I inspect somewhere else in four weeks?

I spent an hour explaining the difficulties practices had preparing for the CQC inspections. That was the last I heard from her. Since then I have had several more emails asking me to fill out a form and get CRB checks.

But even before the two phone calls, I knew I no longer wanted to work for the CQC. I was totally disillusioned by its amateur approach and shocked that it was prepared to send me, untrained and alone, to inspect a practice.

Good luck to all GPs who are still expecting a CQC inspection.

Response from Professor Nigel Sparrow, senior national GP advisor to the Care Quality Commission:

‘While specialist advisors are not inspectors, they play an important role in our new approach to regulating general practices as they provide professional advice and support to the inspection teams.  All of our advisors are checked and trained prior to their appointments and are accompanied by inspectors on their visits.

While we cannot comment on individual recruitment cases, we apologise for any delays in correspondence that the author of this letter may have received. We encourage them to get in touch with us directly to discuss their concerns further.’