CQC admits primary care is 'low risk' as ratings loom

Healthcare watchdog the CQC has said primary care poses a lower risk than other parts of the health service, ahead of a strategy review that could set out how risk ratings for NHS providers will work.

CQC: watchdog is drawing up NHS provider ratings
CQC: watchdog is drawing up NHS provider ratings

A review to be published next week by the CQC is expected to set out details of how risk ratings for providers - possibly including GPs - will work.

GP leaders have warned that any plans to rate practices must take into account their diversity.

In line with other providers regulated by the CQC, GPs could face assessment on how 'caring' they are.

As part of the response to the Francis inquiry, health secretary Jeremy Hunt asked the CQC to set up risk ratings for hospitals this year, with care homes to follow. Plans for primary care are 'under consideration'.

The watchdog made clear in a report last year that it plans to regulate 'different sectors in different ways'. A CQC spokesman said it would focus 'where risk is greatest'. 'We probably feel it is greatest in social care and acute trusts,' he said. 'That may be where the focus of our work is leading for the next few years.'

A total of 7,563 GP practices completed CQC registration ahead of the April 2013 deadline. Applications for a further 44 were received close to the deadline and are being processed.

Two practices were refused registration after GPs failed to provide assurances on fitness to practise.

Five more have been refused but have time to appeal. A further practice was rejected but altered its set-up and was approved after resubmitting its application.

A further 43 GP providers are in discussion with the CQC to determine whether they are eligible for registration - but this group could include practices that have been double-counted by the watchdog.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GP it was vital that practices were not over-regulated simply as 'part of a process where they treat all providers the same'.

He added that the CQC had many big issues to deal with, and general practice was not one of them.

It was too early to tell whether the CQC would get this balance right, Dr Vautrey added.

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