The RCGP peer support programme for practices placed into special measures by the CQC has been extended by six months to October 2017 to ensure practices recently rated 'inadequate' get 'equitable treatment' with those inspected earlier in the cycle.
The scheme, commissioned by NHS England, offers struggling practices up to six months of turnaround support including advice, mentoring and improvement plans.
The RCGP told GPonline that over 100 practices have received support under the voluntary scheme to date.
Practices can receive up to £5,000 in support – provided they match the sum pound-for-pound, creating a maximum budget of £10,000.
From 1 April until the end of October, the scheme will be funded centrally by NHS England instead of by local commissioning teams, as has been the case thus far.
NHS England confirmed that the support scheme ‘will end with the introduction’ of the CQC’s new approach to inspecting GP practices, which will come in from October 2017.
The RCGP said it would continue to offer support to any struggling practice - not only those in special measures - after this date through its recently-launched practice resilience scheme.
The CQC has already inspected all practices once under the current scheme, and is due to open a consultation on proposals for a new GP scheme in May.
It is poised to usher in new changes to the way it inspects hospitals and adult social care next month.
Most practices rated ‘inadequate’ by CQC inspectors are placed into the special measures scheme – and over 260 practices have initially been rated inadequate to date. The CQC says 100 practices have improved enough to leave the scheme.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘The college’s peer support programme was set up in response to a request from NHS England to provide a speedy and effective solution for struggling practices after an unsatisfactory CQC inspection.
‘More than 100 practices have received support to date and the scheme is receiving excellent feedback overall. We would hope that the CQC adopts and adapts the learning from our pilot into any similar scheme that is introduced in future.
‘The college has already launched a practice resilience scheme that makes our diagnostic and support service available to a wider range of practices, not just those in special measures, and we are working with a number of CCGs across England.’