CQC ratings show most GP practices 'good' or 'outstanding' as three in special measures

CQC inspections have revealed that the vast majority of practices are providing 'good' or 'outstanding' care as the first few are sentenced to special measures.

Inspection: four out of five practices 'good' or 'outstanding'
Inspection: four out of five practices 'good' or 'outstanding'

More than four out of five (82%) of the 143 practices to have their inspection reports published have received one of the top two grades in the CQC’s overhauled Ofsted-style regime.

The second major batch of 75 reports was published on Thursday, which saw three new practices classified as ‘outstanding’ – bringing the overall total up to six.

These include the St Thomas Medical Group in Exeter, Radbrook Green Surgery in Shropshire and former GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden’s practice, The Group Surgery in Derbyshire.

Dr Holden, who was the GPC’s longest-serving negotiator until stepping down last year, said his practice had made a concerted year-long effort to step up care and ‘tighten up the nuts and bolts’ to achieve the rating.

Outstanding practice

He said: ‘This required hard work, leadership from the front, and a single mindedness from all partners and all the staff. We all decided this was something that we could do without it costing us an arm and a leg.’

But he warned that the level expected for ‘outstanding’ was impossible to maintain and GPs ‘should not be expected’ to deliver care at that level, especially given the workforce and funding constraints the profession is currently facing.

A total of 112 practices have now been rated 'good' by the CQC, 20 practices have been told they ‘require improvement’, while just five have been found ‘inadequate’.

Three of the inadequate practices have been placed in special measures, meaning they have 12 months to improve or face closure. Under revamped rules announced this week by the CQC, any practice that recives an overall rating of 'inadequate' will be placed automatically into special measures.

The first two practices rated inadequate have not been placed in special measures because they have started to improve since being inspected, and were rated before the policy of placing 'inadequate' practices automatically into special measures had been adopted.

Flawed rating system

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul welcomed the positive ratings, but criticised the CQC's 'crude' rating system.

He said: ‘These inspection results once again demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of GP practices provide high levels of care, despite operating within inadequate resources and excessive levels of workload.

‘However, we maintain that the crude rating system is fundamentally flawed, and fails to reflect the quality of individual services within a GP practice, and neither does it consider local context or resource constraints.

‘For practices identified as inadequate it’s vital that we understand the reasons for this, which is often due to practices working in challenging circumstances with inadequate staffing or premises. The focus must  be to offer help and support  not condemnation or naming and shaming, which would exacerbate workforce problems of retention and recruitment.’

* Professor Steve Field: The quality of GP services is good

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