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CQC to go £700k over budget to hit GP practice inspection target

The CQC is planning to overspend its staff budget for inspecting primary medical services by £700,000 in a last-ditch effort to hit its end-of-year target.

The CQC’s latest performance report says it will have to rely on additional ‘bank’ inspectors to carry out an outstanding 270 GP inspections and 250 dental practice inspections by the end of March.

But this comes as the budget is already £200,000 overspent and the inspection deadline has already been deferred once, from an original date of September 2016.

It also comes as the CQC is currently consulting on plans for massive hikes in GP practice fees as part of a mandate to make its inspection regime self-funding.

The CQC said the additional staff will be parachuted into regions where inspection teams are running behind. It said this includes London and the South where it has struggled with recruiting inspectors, and areas where a higher proportion of practices have had poor ratings and required follow-up inspections and support.

The report said: ‘Bank Inspectors will be deployed to undertake around 520 inspections (270 GP and 250 Dentists) between September and January…PMS [primary medical services] are confident that they will achieve the January deadline given these resources…

‘PMS are currently overspent by £0.2m on pay… using [bank inspectors] for the remainder of the inspection programme will result in a £0.7m overspend on PMS pay budget.’

A CQC spokesperson told Pulse: ‘Bank inspectors have always been a core part of CQC’s flexible workforce so that we can bring in additional resource where necessary.

‘We will continue to deploy bank resource to help deliver the PMS programme by end March. This is within the overall CQC budget.’

Other issues raised in papers published ahead of a CQC board meeting today included findings that 57% of practices and dentists ‘disagree or strongly disagree’ that ‘CQC inspections are fair and based on evidence’ in the CQC’s post-inspection survey.

Other issues highlighted included:

  • GPs are left waiting on their final reports, with figures showing the CQC only achieved its monthly performance target of publishing 70% of post-inspection reports within 50 days of the inspection twice in the first six months of 2016/17.
  • Chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field said he was ‘surprised’ that the CQC is still finding inadequate practices at the same rate now as when it started the inspection regime, as the assumption had been that this would tail off as inspection became established. 

The GPC has said the Department of Health will reimburse GP practices for rising fees, but the DH has told Pulse that this remains subject to negotiation.