CQC checks could be 'streamlined' for high-quality practices

Practices that carry out strong internal audits and accreditation could receive an easier ride from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), its chairwoman suggested to MPs this week.

Dr Sarah Wollaston: GPs already face significant bureaucracy
Dr Sarah Wollaston: GPs already face significant bureaucracy

The regulator also reported that GP registration was proceeding at 'record pace'.

Speaking at a House of Commons health select committee accountability hearing, Conservative MP for Totnes and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston questioned the CQC on whether the process of regulation could be streamlined for GP practices.

Dr Wollaston said: ‘Can I just ask on the point of GP registration, how you are going to avoid duplication and unnecessary bureaucracy because GP practices are already accredited by the RCGP and they’re going to be registered by the NHS Commissioning Board (NCB)?’

CQC chairwoman Dame Jo Williams, who announced her resignation earlier this week, said the CQC would try to avoid duplication by working with the RCGP and NCB.

She said: 'We do want to consider how we can utilise accreditation schemes to inform and safeguard the public by recognising that certain schemes are very sound.

‘We are going to be talking with the sector about our respective roles and responsibilities. The difficulty for us at this stage with primary care is we have never done it before.

‘I think next year we will want to explore, through our inspections, what we are identifying as the risk issues and talking to other organisations about how together we make sure there is quality service.’

Dame Jo also seemed to suggest that the CQC could show extra leniency to practices that carried out their own accreditation and internal audits.

Dr Wollaston said: ‘Because you touched on this before, one of the themes of well functioning organisations is that they carry out their own accreditation and internal audits and how you can create that bow wave of encouraging that good practice rather than just creating another whole raft of bureaucracy. So you’re confident that you’re going to do that?’

Dame Jo replied: ‘It feels appropriate to me, in terms of using our resources properly and targeting them on organisations where there might be difficulties, that’s the right way to proceed and we should acknowledge those organisations that are getting to grips with quality assurance.’

Earlier in the meeting newly appointed CQC chief executive David Behan said that within three days of registration opening, 60 practices had completed their submission to the CQC. 

A CQC spokesman said: ‘This is the fastest registration process with the most volume compared to social care and dentists.'

A quarter of practices will need to submit evidence to the CQC and declare compliance or non-compliance by 1 October.

The news follows an announcement from the CQC last month that around 500 practices were yet to begin the registration process.

Earlier in the meeting Dame Jo came under fire from the committee for discussing personal issues relating to whistleblower and CQC board member Kay Sheldon.

Dame Jo went on to withdraw her comments and apologised.

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