Exclusive: CQC 50% short of target number of GP inspectors

The CQC has filled just under half of its GP inspector positions, two months before its revamped inspection regime rolls out in October.

Professor Field: inspection overhaul
Professor Field: inspection overhaul

A total of 326 GPs have signed up to act as inspectors under chief inspector Professor Steve Field's overhaul of practice inspections - just under half the CQC's 'ideal' goal of 700.

The watchdog now has only two months to recruit more inspectors before the roll-out of its revised inspection regime, built around having a GP on every team.

Of the 326 on board, 147 have completed specialist training - and are therefore ready to conduct inspections - while 179 are still undergoing the training process.

Inspector fees revealed

GP has learnt that GPs hired as inspectors can expect to be paid £540 per day. GPs who are not registered on the GMC GP register, such as retired GPs, will be paid £300 per day.

GPs will have to take a full day out of practice to carry out an inspection. Locums charge an average rate of £450-£500 per day, according to a 2013 survey by GP's sister website Medeconomics.

A recent GP poll revealed interest in becoming an inspector was high, with two out of five GP respondents saying they would consider the role.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said CQC inspections would lack credibility if too few GPs were recruited. He said: 'Many practices don't want their valued colleagues to be replaced by locums, so it can be very difficult for GPs to take time out to be able to do these activities.'

The proposed £540 per day 'won't cover a locum to come into the practice and do what a GP would do if they were there all day', he added.

Inspectors could be hard to find

Birmingham LMC secretary Dr Robert Morley said a national shortage of GPs meant finding inspectors could be difficult. 'Most GPs simply don't have the capacity to help the CQC because they are too busy looking after their patients,' he said.

A CQC spokeswoman said GPs keen to become inspectors would undergo a vetting process before they could be considered.

'Applicants are required to attend an assessment, which comprises an interview, tabletop discussions and an open forum discussion. The vetting process includes disclosure and barring service, fitness to practise and reference checks.

'Successful applicants who are invited to join the CQC as GP specialist advisers must then attend a training day.'

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