The CQC are well and truly in town.
It started with the stash of wine in the drawer of Room 2. More than likely a collection acquired over a decade, gifts from patients at Christmas. Most of the bottles in there had been at the practice longer than me. We’ve all gone a little CQC stir crazy of late, and so they had to go, distributed to any staff left in the building on the Friday night. I settled for a slightly turbid wine from the early noughties. Unpleasant, and I suspect the donor, much like the flavour in this vintage, had died long ago.
On the Monday morning, we all came in to a barren workplace. The waiting room was unrecognisable: countless chlamydia posters telling patients to “know your nasties” had gone. Outdated patient notifications from the 1990s, brown and worn, were confined to recycling. In our rooms fabric patterned curtains, with years of patient experience, were replaced by sterile blue paper versions, all pleated and smart.
Then the dictat came in that we were responsible for our own rooms. The waste had to go, from old BNFs to cotton-wool balls. Two of the partners filled three black bags of CQC fallout. One of them described the process as “cathartic.”
As I read the latest email from our senior partner, alluding to murmurings that the CQC were prowling our patch, I looked around the room. There were texts in the bookcase – surely these were OK? The paper on the notice board, naked and unlaminated, would have to come down of course. Then my eyes met Aleksandr’s.
For months the cultured anthropomorphic meerkat had sat on the second shelf up, observing consultations. He had come free with the car insurance, a cuddly toy bedecked in smoking jacket to sweeten the deal. The children loved him, their parents gave knowing nods. Would Aleksandr, Russian refugee and harmless icebreaker in tense consultations, survive a CQC inspection?
‘Toys can stay if they can be washed weekly’, a colleague reckoned. Plastic cars, the abacus, even the nasty rubber doll with one eye and pink hair – they could all stay. But cuddly toys? An emphatic NO. After all, who knows what microbes could be lurking and mutating in the meerkat’s synthetic fur?
It would be interesting to test the CQC’s resolve. We’d clean up the place, get the policies and protocols arranged neatly in new ring-binders and laminate the clocks, keyboards and loo seats. We’d smile gleefully as the inspectors scooted round, clipboards in hand, tickboxing away. Then, just when the practice was one outdated depolido from a clear pass, open the door to Room 2 where a revolutionary meerkat was standing defiantly on the shelf.
I fear the Meer will have to go, but the thought of him defying the CQC single-pawed makes risking a failed inspection almost worthwhile.