Dr Kailash Chand: CQC poor practice rating is misleading

CQC figures revealing the poor quality of one in six surgeries are at best misleading and will be used by the media as a stick to beat the profession.

I am not defending bad practice, but the figures do not take into account the circumstances in which practices operate. Variations in funding, the deprivation factor, poor premises, nurses shunning general practice, all of these factors are ignored.

The environment in which GPs are striving to provide services is increasingly challenging.

GPs across the country tell us that they are firefighting to provide the services their patients want and the care they need.

In England alone, NHS England estimates at least 340m patient consultations are undertaken every year; this is up 40m since 2008.

Numbers of elderly and vulnerable patients, the heaviest users of the NHS, continue to increase.

By 2011 the number of people aged over 65 years had reached 10,494,000 and by 2031, the NHS Confederation predicts this will reach 15,778,000.

The 10-minute slot available to each of these patients in a standard GP appointment is simply not long enough.

Our members tell us that even if more GPs were recruited, trained and ready to see patients tomorrow, there would not be the physical space available for them all to work. Many practices are old and need investment to create more rooms, or simply make them fit for purpose. They need to have the right facilities to support the delivery of flexible, community-based services.

Increasing demand and workload are leading to low morale and stress, causing many GPs to leave the profession. GPs and their teams must have greater support to deliver high-quality services.

That is why the BMA has launched a campaign in support of GPs and their teams and together with our members, we are calling for long-term, sustainable investment in GP services.

This must include investment to attract, retain and expand the number of GPs, investment in the wider practice team to meet patients' needs, and investment in the premises from which GP services are being provided and the facilities they can offer.

Without addressing these fundamental problems, we are in danger of undermining general practice to a point where medical students and junior doctors will not take it up and it could be in danger of terminal decline. Publication of these misleading CQC figures during a GP recruitment and retention crisis is a disaster.

  • Dr Chand is BMA deputy chairman

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