CQC denies that 10% of GP practices face inspection

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rowed back on a warning from one of its senior officials that up to 10% of GP practices could present a 'risk to patients'.

Professor David Haslam: not all non-compliant GP practices face CQC inspection (Photograph: P Hill)
Professor David Haslam: not all non-compliant GP practices face CQC inspection (Photograph: P Hill)

The watchdog is to write to MPs to clarify its position after its director of operations Amanda Sherlock told the House of Commons’ public accounts committee that one in 10 practices could pose a risk and face inspections.

Asked what percentage of GPs the CQC expects to investigate for non-compliance after GP registration starts, Ms Sherlock told MPs: ‘We are anticipating there will be 10% at significant risk of non-compliance.’

Ms Sherlock was then asked: ‘So 10% of GPs currently you think are a considerable risk to patients?’ She replied: ‘Yes.’

But CQC GP registration lead Professor David Haslam told GP that non-compliance did not necessarily mean patients would be put at risk, despite Ms Sherlock’s comments.

‘One committee member’s interpretation of this was that 10% of GPs posed a significant risk to patients. What we didn’t explain clearly enough at the time was that non-compliance with the essential standards can translate into poor care, but does not automatically equate to poor care.’

Not all practices that declare non-compliance would need to be inspected, he said. ‘In some cases, GPs will have declared non-compliance, but will have told us what mitigating actions they will take. In these cases, we won’t necessarily inspect.

‘We will, however, always ins­pect where we have evidence of poor care – but we don’t yet know for what percentage of this 10% this will be the case.’

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower told the committee that GPs in pilots had not sought to hide non-compliance. ‘We’ve piloted this activity and GPs are very open about declaring non-compliance if they think it’s there,’ she said.

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