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Why the CQC’s apology makes matters worse

How quickly we go from joy to despair. Or, more specifically, from despair to joy to even deeper despair.

Last Friday lunchtime: on a visit, one of the partners catches the end of some radio news which seems to suggest that the CQC has admitted mistakes were made in its Intelligent (“Intelligent”) Monitoring, and has apologised to GPs. He tells us the good news and we go from wanting to punch every CQC employee in the face to punching the air in delight.

Last Friday evening: we check out the detail of the story to find that this isn’t a wholesale retraction at all, it’s a tweak removing a few indicators. This, the CQC says, will lead to a ‘big apology’ to the few practices it make a difference to, whereas, obviously, the rest of us unfairly labelled as crap by the media can go on being labelled as crap by the media.

If anything, this ‘apology’ makes matters worse. Piously admitting that some of these poxy/proxy markers of ‘quality’ aren’t actually fair sends out the message that the rest are, and completely misses the point. It’s not the detail, it’s the whole sodding concept that’s wrong.

Or, if you’d rather: CQC, what part of YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE PUBLISHED THIS CRUD IN THE FIRST PLACE do you not understand?

And if you were going to bear the media brunt for admitting you’d made a mistake, why not admit that it wasn’t a teensy weensy one, but that you’d actually dropped a Buster Gonad-sized bo**ock?

So the all-pervading gloom in our practice has intensified.

And no wonder. The CQC has given local and national press the ammunition to shoot down practice reputations built up through years of blood sweat and tears.

Worse than that, it gave itself the opportunity to show sense and mercy, then simply didn’t bother.

It’s now getting a media kicking of its own. That’s ironic, and I hope it’s also long and hard. I’m not normally one to be vindictive, but on this occasion I’ll make an exception.

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