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05th December 2013

Poor Quality Practices to Face a Weapon of Destruction

Fighting doctor. Conceptual medical illustrationWe need to up our game

A recent article in GP Magazine reported that the CQC Chief Inspector of General Practice Professor Steve Field has warned GPs who deny there is a problem with variation in primary care standards are wrong, and vowed to close poor-quality practices.

Professor Field, speaking at the NHS Alliance Conference, said ‘We need to up our game as GPs’, ‘We won’t tolerate poor practice,' and ‘We’ve already initiated the closure of a number of practices.’ He claimed he had already come across examples of poor practices where they did not know what a ‘significant event’ was, claimed not to have received any complaints, had not had any safeguarding training, and where the practice nurse had had no CPD training for twenty years.

The chief inspector suggested GPs who did not involve patients in practice development should not be allowed to practise. ‘How did they get feedback? Have they done any audits? Any significant event analyses? Do they have a patient group? The answer is "no",' he said. ‘The question is, should they be allowed to continue to practise?’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that CQC inspections of general practice were ‘probably a little bit brutal’, but remained the best way to ‘spread best practice’ and argued that grading was the best mechanism to drive up standards. Mr Hunt said there was widespread concern over variability of standards in general practice and Professor Field’s work would be ‘one of the biggest weapons we have’.

Ofsted comparison

Professor Field acknowledges his inspection regime alone would not drive quality improvement. He said the CQC plans to follow Ofsted's lead and send letters to patients informing them of GP practices' successes and failures. Although Professor Field claims Ofsted has moved to minimal bureaucratic standards and greater aspirational stuff, the opinions I have read about Ofsted inspections is the stress and demoralisation they cause teaching staff, do we really need any more of this in the NHS?

In our defence

However, Professor Field has pledged to speak out strongly in defence of GPs if external factors such as funding cuts or workforce shortages undermine quality. He has said he would use his role not just to target individual practices over poor performance, but to suggest improvements across whole health economies that could raise standards.

Exceed the requirements with QCS

I was shocked by some of Professor Fields claims and examples of poor quality in GP Practices but, by using a system like the one supplied by QCS, care providers are able to exceed standards of quality and safety.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Alison Lowerson

GP Specialist

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