CQC inspection plans 'must not drive up GP costs'

Practices must not be burdened with extra costs under plans for healthcare watchdog the CQC to create 'larger, more expert' inspection teams, GP leaders have warned.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: assessment by social media 'unscientific'
Dr Chaand Nagpaul: assessment by social media 'unscientific'

The GPC also hit out at plans to use social media including Facebook and Twitter to assess practice performance.

A strategy document published by the CQC set out plans for bigger inspection teams with more specialist knowledge, and confirms that assessments of care will give ‘an organisation rating’.

It says that ‘inspectors will specialise in particular areas of care and will lead teams that include clinical and other experts and people with experience of care who we call experts by experience’.

In some cases the watchdog will go beyond checks on individual providers to carry out ‘in-depth investigations to look at system-wide concerns’, the report says.

‘For example, we may investigate system-wide issues relating to the care that people with dementia receive,’ it says.

The strategy document says results of friends and family tests – due to be introduced first for hospitals and later for primary care – and social media comments will be taken into account in assessing providers.

‘We will search for both positive and negative comments on what is being said about services, including using social media (for example, Facebook and Twitter) and other digital media such as our website,’ the CQC report says.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned against forcing practices to take on extra costs or excessive regulation.

He pointed out that practices in England were being disadvantaged compared with those in the rest of the UK, which will not face CQC checks or fees.

‘GPs are already feeling overburdened with increasing workload, expenses and a reduction in income,’ he added.

Dr Nagpaul welcomed CQC plans to focus inspections increasingly where risk is seen to be highest.

But he added that it was ‘highly unscientific and unfair’ to judge the quality of a service by social media or other online comments.

‘We already have feedback via the patient survey, and on quality of care via QOF achievement. Relying on social media is selective feedback and it would be inappropriate to make judgements on practices based on what is said on social media,’ he argued.

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