MPs slate CQC for GP registration focus as inspections drop 70%

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) focused on registering GP practices to the detriment of its inspection and review activities, a report by MPs has revealed.

The CQC’s focus on registering GP practices and other primary care providers has resulted in a ‘misallocation of resources’, a health select committee report has found.

The report said that the CQC had spent so much time focused on registering primary care providers that the numbers of inspections had fallen 'far below usual levels'.

The report said that although the CQC was obliged to work within the deadlines for registration imposed by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010 the 70% drop in inspections was unacceptable.

The report said it ‘demonstrates a failure to manage resource and activity in line with the main statutory objective of the CQC'.

As part of the report, the committee identified factors which it believed had contributed to the 'distortion' of the CQC's priorities. The report said:

  • The CQC was originally established without a sufficiently clear and realistic definition of its priorities and objectives.
  • The timescale and resource implications of the functions of the CQC, in particular the legal requirement to introduce universal registration of primary and social care providers, were not properly analysed.
  • The registration process itself was not properly tested and proven before it was rolled out.
  • The CQC failed to draw the implications of these failures adequately to the attention of ministers, parliament and the public.

The report agreed with the government’s proposal to delay GP registration until April 2013, saying that the delay would give the CQC time to make improvements and ‘put things right’.

‘Action must be swift if procedures and especially regulations are to be reviewed, altered and put into practice in good time,’ the report said.

In response to the report, the CQC said: ‘We know registration has been a difficult process for everyone involved, which is why we asked the health secretary to delay registration of GPs by a year to allow us to improve the way we do it – and to allow our staff to dedicate more time to inspection.’

Commenting on the report, Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said: ‘Raising quality across the NHS is essential. The focus on quality must not be lost in this period of efficiency savings and reform.'

'The RCP does not want artificial divides to emerge between economic regulation and the regulation of quality of care. This could lead to a bureaucratic and disconnected system in which ‘competition’ trumps quality of services and patient care.'

 

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