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GPC funding body drops judicial review against CQC

Exclusive A GP practice has dropped a judicial review into the CQC’s practice inspection and appeals process, despite the support of the BMA, Pulse can reveal.

Pulse revealed in May that the GP Defence Fund (GPDF), the body which manages the GPC’s funding, had agreed to fund the case on behalf of an East Midlands practice, but it wrote to LMCs last month informing them that the case would ‘no longer be pursued’.

The GPDF told Pulse that the decision to drop the legal action was taken by the practice, and the funding body had been keen to continue with the judicial review. 

The details of the case were not made clear, but when the GPDF announced it was taking on the case, it said the practice’s ‘inspection report and, subsequently, the ensuing appeal/review process was, in our view, not managed appropriately by the CQC’.

In its most recent letter, GPDF treasurer Dr John Canning said the threat of a judicial review had led to a review by the CQC of the inspection review, but he said this was not conducted ‘to the GPDF’s satisfaction’.  

It comes after the CQC was told last month to review its appeals process by a High Court judge.

The legal challenge was the first concrete move by the GPC to challenge the CQC’s processes after January’s Special LMCs Conference tasked it with finding a way to legally withdraw from CQC regulation.

But Dr Canning wrote to LMCs at the start of August to tell them that the case has been dropped following a decision ‘taken entirely by the members of the practice’.

The letter confirms the GPDF would have continued to support the judicial review, and Dr Canning says he understood this news would ‘disappoint many of you’.

Pulse understands that the practice involved was going through a restructure at the time that the case was withdrawn.

The letter says: ‘I am writing to inform you that the matter will no longer be pursued because of changed circumstances in the practice which mean that the [judicial review] JR cannot progress.

‘I am sure this will disappoint many of you, but I wish to stress that this was a decision taken entirely by the members of the practice. Had this not been so the GPDF would have continued to fund the case to a hearing. As to costs the GPDF has agreed with CQC that each side will meet their own costs.’

‘While the JR claim was fully contested by the CQC, this JR claim led to a further review by the CQC, which was also not to the GPDF’s satisfaction.’

He added that it would ‘not be appropriate to comment on the case further other than to stress that the inspection report and, subsequently, the ensuing appeal/review process was, in our view, not managed appropriately by the CQC and that the CQC acted in a manner which was neither fair, equitable, reasonable nor operating within the parameters of natural justice’.

Pulse revealed this month that a high court tribunal had ordered the CQC to review their appeals process, and should appoint an independent expert to review complaints rather than its own lead inspector.

The CQC told Pulse they had no further comment on the case.