I’ve been doing my online fire safety training. You know the kind of thing:
‘WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING ARE GOOD TO HAVE IN YOUR SURGERY TO PREVENT FIRES:
a) FIRE DOORS
b) KEITH FLINT SITTING IN A KEROSENE-FILLED JACUZZI USING HIS ZIPPO AS A FIDGETSPINNER’.
It’s pretty basic stuff, but my practice manager reckons if I don’t do it every year we could get done over by the CQC. This struck me as odd. I would have thought that it was a bit like tetanus vaccination, and the five or six will-to-live-sapping mandatory fire safety induction lectures I sat texting in as a junior doctor would confer lifetime cover, with the odd prn booster needed if I subsequently set my desk ablaze with a chip pan or something. But the CQC apparently think it’s more like the flu jab, needing to be repeated on an annual basis, in case one year the laws of physics mutate and water suddenly becomes flammable.
Or do they? The more I investigate, the more confusing it gets. The CQC’s self-proclaimed ‘Mythbuster’ website states that ‘CQC does not have a list of mandatory training for members of the GP practice team’, before promptly providing a list of training which they expect to see evidence of. I spent 48 hours trying to get them to state clearly how frequently I need to do fire training, and it’s like trying to get blood from a stone, if you hadn’t done your online geological phlebotomy update for a few years and were like super rusty.
So far I’ve been told I need to demonstrate that I’m up to date, but it’s my responsibility to decide what ‘up to date’ means, and while the CQC definitely don’t have a secret gold standard against which they’ll benchmark my decision, they would nonetheless be obliged to criticise my practice if I got the frequency wrong. I know, right? The CQC and impenetrable Catch-22 bullshit in the same sentence – what are the odds? If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder if they wanted to keep the goalposts in constant motion, because then they’d always be able to find something with which to castigate a practice, and thus to justify their continued existence.
In entirely unrelated news, the number of GPs working in the UK has dropped, with the CQC frequently cited as a last straw by retiring colleagues. Maybe the CQC can appreciate the bittersweet irony of fire safety leading to GP burnout; or perhaps they need more training.
Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson