THE Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection regime aimed at GP practices is damaging patient care by diverting resources and GP time away from treating patients, according to a new BMA survey of over 1,900 GP practices in England.
Last year the CQC was forced to withdraw part of its assessment process that allocated ratings to GP practices before inspectors had visited the surgery. The BMA recently called for the scrapping of planned fee rises related to the CQC, branding them ‘extortionate’ and a drain on precious NHS resources.
Key findings from the survey include:
• Eight out of 10 GP practices (80 per cent) reported that preparing for a CQC inspection resulted in a reduction in time available to care for patients.
• Seven out of 10 (70 per cent) had to spend funding on staff overtime while preparing for the inspections, while three out of ten (thirty per cent) had to employ locums.
• Almost nine out of 10 GP practices (87 per cent) said that on the day of the CQC inspection, staff had to reduce GP services available for patients, with almost seven out of ten (sixty seven per cent) reporting a loss of nursing time.
• Three-quarters of GP practices (75 per cent) reported that staff suffered from significantly increased stress in preparing for and undergoing inspections – less than two per cent reported no impact on stress levels or a decrease.
• Three-quarters of GPs (74 per cent) felt the inspection regime could make them more likely to leave general practice.
• Only one in 10 (11 per cent) regarded their final CQC rating as a fair assessment.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘GPs are being forced to divert valuable time away from treating patients towards the endless box ticking, paperwork and bureaucracy that is the hallmark of this programme.
‘Vital NHS resources are being wasted on employing locums and staff to cover the work of a GP practice in the run up to and while the CQC is in the building. These findings come at a time when the CQC is proposing unacceptable and extortionate rises in their fees which will pull even more resources away from frontline services.’
Dr Nagpaul concluded: ‘As motions at tomorrow’s Special Conference of GPs make clear, the current CQC inspection regime is not fit for purpose, and needs wholesale reform that produces an effective, slimmed-down process focusing on ensuring a safe, effective service for patients.’