THE Care Quality Commission (CQC) forcibly deregistered at least 14 GP practices last year, the highest number to date under its three-year inspection regime.
The figures, revealed in board papers published this week, relate specifically to practices that had been placed in ‘special measures’ following an inspection identifying ‘serious failures of care’. It comes as the CQC directly cancelled nine practice registrations in 2015/16 and ten in 2014/15.
The papers reveal that around a third of practices in special measures ended up deregistered, either by force or voluntarily, while two-thirds improved enough to be taken out of the programme during 2016/17.`
Some practice registrations were immediately cancelled by the CQC upon inspection without going through the special measures process but the CQC did not provide a figure for how many practices it closed down in this manner. “
Therefore, the number of practices which were stripped of their registration in the last year could be higher. The end-of-year figures for 2016/17 reveal that a further 37 practices voluntarily deregistered their contracts after an inspection or whilst being in special measures. `
The latest report showed that out of 133 practices which left special measures last year, two-thirds were taken out of the regime because they made significant improvements and were no longer deemed inadequate.
The remaining third were either closed down by the CQC or have themselves deregistered, and 130 GP practices remained in special measures on 31 March. GP leaders commented that that while the profession does not tolerate unsafe care, the CQC’s regime was a ‘massive, expensive, destructive hammer’ to solve a problem that exisiting contractual levers can address.
GPC’s regulation head Dr Robert Morley said that while the ‘very tiny portion’ of unacceptable practices must not be tolerated’ this regime was not the solution. If any practice’s position is truly irretrievable then commissioners have always had the levers to deal with the problem, so the question must be asked as to why they haven’t. The current regime of general practice regulation by CQC is both unfit for purpose and unnecessary.’