by Dayo Laniyan
HM Chief Inspector of General Practice, Professor Steve Field has announced that from October 1st, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will begin rating 8,000 GPs, bringing them in line with the rating system already being used to regulate other sectors such as hospitals.
Practices that have been given the bottom rating “inadequate” will be given six months to resolve their issues. If they are unsuccessful in moving out of the bottom rating, the practice in question will be put in special measures and given another six months, this time to be given support yet to be defined.
Failure in special measures will lead to either the CQC withdrawing the registration of that practice, or NHS England terminating its contract-either outcome meaning the practice will not be allowed to continue.
Professor Steve Field himself said “Most GP practices provide good care. But we can’t allow those that provide poor care to continue to let their patients have an inadequate service.”
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) says, “Patients should expect high quality and consistent care from every GP practice and the vast majority of practices do an excellent job of delivering care to the highest possible quality standards.”
“But there is occasionally a very real variation in the quality of care provided and this must be addressed.”
However there has been some criticism on the new measures. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) GP committee said “It is right GPs are held to account, but in many circumstances failures are more about the environment they work in than the individual practice.”
“It is important not to create a counterproductive blame culture based on isolated examples that would wrongly damage patient trust in wider GP services.”
Dr David Wrigley, a Lancashire GP who is also on the BMA’s ruling council, had a more blunt opinion, “It’s inevitable that there are pockets of below average standards of care across the country, but I think this is all part of the government’s ‘trash the NHS’ agenda and the CQC are doing the bidding for them.”