CQC officials have revealed that practices rated ‘inadequate’ overall will automatically be placed into special measures.
Previous guidance had suggested practices would be given a six-month period to improve before this step was taken.
CQC officials have previously said they will immediately draw up plans to replace any practice placed in special measures. The decision to scrap the six-month grace period for practices rated inadequate has prompted GP leaders to warn that the special measures programme must focus on support for primary care providers, rather than closure.
Of almost 70 practices handed a formal rating by the CQC to date, the vast majority have been found to be ‘good’.
Practices labelled 'high risk'
At least two practices rated ‘good’ by the CQC’s inspectors were among those publicly labelled high risk by the watchdog’s ‘intelligent monitoring tool, published late last year.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The CQC is finding that the vast majority of practices are providing good services to their patients.
‘In exceptional circumstances a very small number of practices are struggling to do this. It's important that the first step is to try to identify the reasons that lead to these problems and try to resolve them.
‘The special measures programme needs to involve LMCs as they can help practices address these problems. This process can't and shouldn't be seen as simply a way to close practices but about solving problems they may have been trying to deal with for many years.’
CQC chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field revealed last August that the RCGP would be involved in delivering intensive support for practices in special measures.
RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘Patients should expect high quality and consistent care from their GP practice, and the results of the first CQC inspections show that the vast majority of practices do an excellent job of delivering excellent quality care.
‘Those that have been found to be struggling to maintain high standards need support, so I am pleased that the RCGP is able to help them to deliver the best care they possibly can for their patients.’
She added that general practice faces rising pressure and needs more GPs and practice staff to maintain standards.