So, did you see the headlines? You know, the ones about the CQC apologising for having shafted us so royally with its ‘intelligent monitoring’ risk bandings? They were along the lines of, ‘It’s official: CQC are twats’, right? Remember? No?
Of course not. Because there weren’t any. The CQC’s hand-wringing retraction was completely overlooked by national and local media. Unlike the original story, which created the memorable headline: ‘One in six GP surgeries is failing: 1,200 practices could be putting patients at risk’.
Funny, that. When the CQC wants to appear transparent and tough, it manages to get wall-to-wall coverage while expressing amazement at how the media spins the story. Yet when it’s suffering scrotum-shrinking embarrassment it manages to slip its apology out while the journos look the other way and therefore fail to run any ‘GPs less crap than we thought’ stories. For the first time ever, I think the CQC might know what it’s doing.
Anyhow, according to the email sent to all GPs, the CQC acknowledged that its original use of language ‘wasn’t right’. Well, the language I used when I heard my practice was in that ‘failing 1,200’, probably ‘wasn’t right’, either, at least not within earshot of the patients in the waiting room. In 27 years as a GP I have never before felt so utterly insulted, humiliated, betrayed, wronged and angered. My fury was such that, on behalf of my practice, my staff, my partners and even the sodding punters, I would, without hesitation, have rammed a CQC clipboard up the nearest CQC inspector’s decidedly non-clipboard-shaped orifice, that being the only action I could think of that might begin to repair our shattered morale.
You know what, CQC, if you’re reading, that two-word expression of regret – ‘We apologise’ – is utterly inadequate and deserves its own two-word response. You owe us much more for the damage to our reputations, our blood pressure and our intended career spans.
Here’s what GPs would be prepared to accept:
1 A prominent member of the CQC to walk stark-naked through every major city in England carrying a banner bearing the word, ‘Inadequate’.
2 Reimbursement of our CQC subscription, that is, the £616 to £948 cost per practice, of the bullets they’d intended to shoot us with.
And while we’re about making amends for the humiliating abuse we GPs have suffered of late I reckon the politicians owe us, too. Given their electoral tub-thumping about how much they value GPs, I would like them to prove it by agreeing to put a brake on reforms, dump the unplanned admissions DES, ditch revalidation, give us a proper pay rise, retract the obligation to publish our income, scrap the seek-and-destroy dementia campaign, call off the anti-GP media attack-dogs, withdraw the requirement to display our CQC rating and shut the f**k up about seven-day opening.
But most of all I want the naked/banner/CQC thing. Friends and colleagues tell me to let it go and that the CQC ‘apology’ is old news. But it’s no news. And that’s the point.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex