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‘C’ is for…

Being oldish and therefore quite possibly cognitively impaired, I’m having trouble remembering what the letters C, Q and C in ‘CQC’ actually represent. I am aware, though, that ‘clown’ begins with a ‘C’, and so do many other words, some of them really bad.

I’m pondering all this on the back of the CQC’s recent consultation document. One of the new proposals is that practices should provide information annually, rather than just prior to each inspection. Specifically, they want us to record, online, examples of good practice, how we’ve provided effective and responsive care to each of the population groups and examples of good practice. Why? Because, ‘this is one way that providers can demonstrate an open culture and that they are taking  responsibility for assuring the quality of care they provide’.

There are two ways of looking at this. One is that they could be right. Filling in an online form really could demonstrate an open culture and that we are taking responsibility for assuring the quality of care we provide. On the other hand, it might just possibly be yet another pointless box-ticking exercise where the fact we can, and will, make up any old garbage is nonetheless outweighed by the fact it’s a soul destroying waste of time. I really can’t decide, on account of my cognitive impairment.

What I am more certain about is the proposed new ‘CQC Insight’ system to monitor performance. This means that the CQC really has learned from its previous mistakes of ‘Intelligent monitoring’ which, if you recall, suffered a few hiccups. Hiccups such as using and publishing flawed data to imply substandard care in individual practices which was hungrily gobbled up and splashed over front pages by local media causing such morale sapping distress that it provoked in certain GPs, like me, CQCidal rage. The salt in the wound was the ‘Intelligent’ moniker, something they have obviously taken on board, because calling this version ‘Insight’ leaves no potential for irony whatsoever.

I have to confess, that rage hasn’t quite fully dissipated. And my response to your consultation, CQC, is simply to state the bleedin’ obvious. Which is that one of the single biggest impediments to quality care in general practice is the unrealistic demands of the body responsible for measuring it.

Or, to put it another way, F off, CQC. And yes, I can remember what the ‘F’ stands for.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield