The CQC has announced a new system of ‘special measures’ for GP practices which we plan to introduce in October this year, as part of our plans to inspect and rate all GP surgeries
This brings us line with the other special measures programmes across adult social care and hospitals.
Not surprisingly there was a lot of media interest! I made it very clear during interviews that this is not a programme for catching out GP surgeries. It is not a witch hunt.
I am in complete agreement with Dr Chaand Nagpul, from the British Medical Association (BMA), that this is about quality improvement.
It would be great if we didn’t have to use our powers and all practices improved to such a point that when we come to inspect and rate them, there would be no inadequate practices. This is why we are publicising everything and working closely with the BMA and the Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) on guidance for practices. An example of this is the myth buster series below.
I am delighted that the Royal College of GPs and NHS England are working together to support those practices identified as inadequate. I’ve also seen for myself some really excellent work that the Local Medical Committees (LMCs) are doing, for example in Nottinghamshire. I am also really pleased to see that our myth busters are also being disseminated through the GPC communications.
I know some GPs feel alarmed about what we are doing, but there is no need to be – the vast majority provide really good, safe and effective care - the problem is that a small percentage let us all down.
What is important now is for us to all do as much as we can to drive up standards where there is room for improvement so that everyone can access the services they rightly deserve. What we cannot afford to do is allow GP practices that are providing inadequate care to continue doing so indefinitely.
Consultation on how providers can meet new regulations
You may have heard that we are asking for your views on our guidance on the government’s new regulations, called the 'fundamental standards'.
These regulations are clearer and more focused than the ones that they are replacing and they include the widely publicised ‘duty of candour’ (Regulation 5) and ‘fit and proper person’ (Regulation 20) requirements. These will oblige general practices and other providers to be open and honest when things go wrong and they hold directors to account when care fails people.
The regulations have been laid before Parliament and so we’ve published draft guidance to suggest how providers can show they are meeting them. Providers will be able to use this to make sure they are providing high quality care and also, it will suggest the sorts of things that we will be looking at to help us decide whether any regulations have been breached and if so, what actions we need to take.
We want to know whether you think our guidance is clear, whether we have we missed anything out, and whether there is anything that we shouldn’t have included.
As a provider of primary medical care, this is your opportunity to share with us your best practice on how you would meet the regulations, and so I’d encourage you to get involved and to circulate this message. The consultation closes on Friday 17 October, which may seem like a long time away but it will soon be upon us!
Steve is the CQC Chief Inspector of General Practice.
He continues to practise as a GP at Bellevue Medical Centre in Birmingham, a large academic training practice involved in research and health care education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.