CQC GP overhaul plans slammed as burdensome


CREDIT: This story was first seen in OnMedica

Care Quality Commission plans to overhaul GP inspections will place an increased burden on practices, senior GPs have warned.

OnMedica reports that the CQC plans to introduce changes to its regime next year. The shake-up will make practices provide annual information to the CQC. A letter was sent to all practices on Wednesday revealing the system whereby practices will collect and submit their own information to the regulator.

If no concerns are raised by the data, those GP practices already rated good or outstanding will be inspected every five years rather than every year. Inadequate practices will continue to be inspected within six months, and those that ‘require improvement’ within a year.

However, the Royal College of General Practitioners warns that the proposals do not address the bureaucratic burden on GPs, and risks taking up patient time.

Commenting, Professor Martin Marshall, vice chair of the RCGP, said: “The CQC proposals are very disappointing, especially at a time when GPs are struggling to cope with unprecedented pressures of increasing patient demand, insufficient investment and severe GP shortages.”

He added: “It is remarkable – and to the credit of our hardworking family doctors across the country – that, even in the face of such pressure, over 90% of GP practices have been rated as good or outstanding by the CQC.

“Patients deserve good quality care from their GP practice, wherever they live. The College supports a revised approach to regulation that will reduce the regulatory and administrative burden on GPs, encourage quality improvement and promote accountability, while addressing long-standing unacceptable performance.

“But effective regulation must add value to the care of our patients, not detract or distract from the quality of it. Nor should it divert already limited resources away from hard pressed GPs who are working flat out to provide frontline care.”

He added that while some of the proposals make sense “in isolation”, collectively they do not address the issue of the growing regulatory and administrative burden on GP practices.

“In the short term at least, the CQC’s proposals could result in an increase in the administrative burden on practices if they are expected to provide additional information and keep it up to date.

“GPs also need to be assured that the time, effort and resources for monitoring and information gathering are targeted on those practices most likely to benefit.”

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Professor Marshall said some parts of the proposed new approach would be welcomed — “particularly the longer interval between inspections for good and outstanding practices.”

“However, the overall impact of the regulatory burden on GPs will not be reduced by these proposals and they are not sufficient to make a significant difference to the day-to-day workload and working lives of GPs,” he added.

“We have raised these concerns in our response to the CQC consultation and will be pressing for these to more fully reflected in the CQC’s proposals.

“Meanwhile the College will continue to do everything we can to ensure that GPs are supported to do their jobs and that GP time is spent where it matters most – on the care of patients.”

In the letter sent from the CQC to all practices, it stated that additional details of its plans would be published this October, with rollout to be phased in gradually from November.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the Care Quality Commission, said:

“We have written to practices to update them on our inspection programme and the consultation on our new approach. In the consultation document we outlined several ways that we think the inspection programme could evolve to do what it needs to do more efficiently, while recognising the pressures faced by GPs.

“As stated in the letter, the changes are subject to the outcome of the consultation which closed on Tuesday 08 August, the response to which has not yet been finalised so we are not in a position to say precisely what these changes will look like. However, we are working closely with RCGP and BMA on the detail of our proposals so that any changes following the consultation are implemented in such a way that recognises the pressures faced by GPs and minimises the impact on their workload. The work of the General Practice Regulation Board has been established to ensure that those organisations involved in the regulation and commissioning of services work together to reduce duplication and streamline collection of information.”

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