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21st February 2012

RCGP Accreditation Award and CQC Compliance

The Royal College of General Practitioner’s much lauded Practice Accreditation has come in for an interesting qualification by the Care Quality Commission, where it was made categorically clear that those practices which have taken part in the RGCP’s practice accreditation will not be automatically assured of CQC registration.

The Practice Accreditation award is described by the RCGP as “a voluntary quality improvement programme that supports the organisational development of practice teams across England.” The aim of the initiative is to ensure that General Practices provide high quality care to patients by pursuing rigorous quality improvements.  Numerous stakeholders have been consulted over its development including the Care Quality Commission, the General Medical Council, the NHS Confederation of Primary Care Trusts and the Department of Health.

Confusion about participant practices automatically receiving CQC registration may well have been influenced by the issuing of a joint statement by the CQC and the RCGP, where the issue of the postponed registration period (now 1st April 2013) was discussed alongside the value the CQC stated it would expect to see in external quality-driven programmes, such as those offered by the RCGP. Over 150 practices having already signed-up for the practice accreditation award programme, but the claim that practices can “state with confidence” that they will comply with the CQC outcomes no doubt predicated the release of the most recent CQC statement.

The CQC have stated that it is not a requirement of practices to have achieved any of the RCGP quality programmes in order to register in April 2013.  It will of course make use of such programmes, as it will enable it to identify risks and to target its activity appropriately, which would “reduce the burden on providers.” It however, goes on to state that practices can use the scheme as evidence for their declaration of compliance, but that such evidence will not be required from the “vast majority of GP practices.” The CQC said “basing our judgments on information from just one source is inappropriate, as it does not take into account other valuable information available about the quality of a primary medical service.”

This statement raises further questions about the clarity of what the CQC is seeking to achieve. Why will the vast majority of GP practices not be expected to provide evidence of their compliance, but some will?  How will they reassure the general public that the standards in quality and safety are in fact being upheld, if this is not even checked at this basic and fundamental level during the registration period? If the practice accreditation scheme was developed with CQC input, surely it would be a good idea to confirm that securing the award will be taken into account when assessing registration?

With registration over a year away, General Practitioners are no doubt bracing themselves for what will potentially be a repeat of the problems encountered by dentists during their registration in 2011.  With a damaged public image, it is in the interests of the CQC to ensure that the registration process for GPs not only goes as smoothly as possible, but is completely transparent and free from ambiguity.   Here at Quality Compliance Systems, we will monitor the latest developments in the CQC registration process and bring you objective scrutiny of what is occurring.

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