CQC pilots trigger annual inspection fears

Care Quality Commission inspection pilots have raised fears that GP practices could face annual visits from the regulator.

CQC visits: LMC raised fears inspectors could come once a year
CQC visits: LMC raised fears inspectors could come once a year

All GP practices in England are required to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) by April 2013. The results of a practice inspection pilot, which ran in the summer, will influence when and how practices will be inspected after registration.

The CQC has said that GPs, like dentists, are likely to be inspected once every two years.

But Wessex LMC director of primary care Carole Cusack said that following a post-pilot meeting with the CQC, she was concerned that practices would be inspected annually.

She said that CQC representatives had suggested they felt GP practices were more akin to care homes - which are inspected annually - than to dentists.

'In general practice we are looked at and watched by so many people. To have to do CQC every year would be over the top,' said Ms Cusack.

'How can GPs be more akin to a care home than a dentist?' she said. Ms Cusack, who observed three pilot inspections, said that a CQC pilot inspector also said they expected to be carrying out inspections once a year. She said: 'I felt they had almost made up their minds.'

GPC contracts and regulation committee chairman Dr John Canning said annual visits would be 'over-bureaucratic, administratively disastrous and wasteful of resources'.

He said he thought the CQC would limit visits to every two years. A CQC spokesman said a final decision on frequency of inspections was due in October.

But he added: 'It is highly likely that practices will be inspected once every two years.'

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