The CQC plans to incorporate GPs into every inspection to overcome ‘flaws’ in the process.
Professor Steve Field, the new chief inspector of primary care, confirmed during a recent NHS Alliance conference that he will look to including GPs on every primary care inspection to overcome the ‘flaws’ in the inspection process and respond to recent feedback from inspectors.
“We’ve learned a big lesson,” he said, admitting that the current process was “slightly flawed, because there aren’t enough GPs on all those visits. That will change.” He went on to outline his plans to include a wider variety of healthcare professionals – including a GP, a nurse, a practice manager and a GP trainee – on each inspection to make the process more effective.
The results from the recent CQC inspections, which focused on 1,000 practices in the country, were largely encouraging, said Professor Field, with most practices delivering high standard of care. That said, a handful of surgeries were found to be delivering ‘shocking’ levels of care and have subsequently closed. Other struggling practices will be supported by the NHS and the Royal College of GPs to help bring them up to standard.
While GPs welcome Professor Field’s admissions that holding inspections without GP input represents a ‘flawed’ process, many have questioned the reality of GPs already working at full capacity attending inspections on a regular basis and suggested that the GP inspectors sought may not be appropriate to the task.
Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary at Birmingham LMC, asked “where are they going to find [GPs] from? Are they going to be the sort of GPs with the right grounding in bread and butter general practice or are they going to be those from the ivory towers of the RCGP?”
Dr John Canning, chair of Cleveland LMC, also questioned the inclusion of GPs who work in “rarefied situations” on the inspections and raised concerns over the cost of such a move in terms of GPs’ time and the extra financial burden it will place on the primary care sector.
“Under the current regime, the primary care sector has to pay the costs of an inspection, which could add up to £500 per day per GP,” he said.
The results of the inspections, which began in April, will shortly be published, with more inspections planned for the new year.