CQC takes first steps towards closing practices in special measures

GP practices placed in 'special measures' by the CQC could soon find themselves facing closure as the watchdog begins to re-inspect the first practices rated 'inadequate' under its four-point rating system.

First practice placed in special measures could now face closure
First practice placed in special measures could now face closure

The CQC confirmed that practices rated ‘inadequate’ around six months ago are now being visited again by inspectors. If they have not improved, the CQC will commence proceedings to cancel their registration and shut them down.

Although it has already adopted ‘emergency powers’ to immediately close ‘two or three’ practices where it had 'serious concerns', those undergoing the second round of inspections will be the first to face closure after going through the full Ofsted-style CQC process and special measures scheme.

The CQC said it was unable to comment on the specific action being taken against individual providers in this position at the current time.

But ratings data released by the watchdog show it has already inspected at least one ‘inadequate’ practice a second time, and once again given it the lowest rating, meaning it is now scheduled to start the process of cancelling its registration.

A spokesman said it would publish full details on what action was taken against practices once it had been completed, either with the closure of the practice or it being deemed to have improved sufficiently to no longer require special measures and close monitoring.

Map: CQC GP ratings

Under the current scheme, the majority of practices rated ‘inadequate’ are immediately subject to special measures and given a 12-month deadline to demonstrate improvements.

Affected practices are subject to a second comprehensive inspection after around six months on special measures.

The CQC confirmed it will 'begin proceedings' to cancel a practice's registration at this time if they are found still to be inadequate. Those that can show they have made sufficient improvements will be removed from the special measures scheme.

The CQC will issue failing practices a ‘notice of proposal’ to cancel their registration if they are still 'inadequate'. The practice then has 28 days to ‘make representations against this decision’, in which it will make a case for why it should not be closed down. This will be considered by a senior CQC manager not involved in the original decision.

CQC to close practices

If the practice’s representations are upheld, CQC will withdraw the notice to close the practice, allowing it to continue delivering services to patients.

But if those representations are not upheld, the CQC will issue a 'notice of decision' to cancel their registration and force them to close down.

Practices will be given a chance to appeal against this final decision, but will have to take legal action to do so.

The CQC spokesman said that affected practices will be able to continue delivering ‘regulated’ services to patients until the process of closing the practice is finalised.

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