Exclusive: CQC risk ratings triggered hundreds of calls from practices

The CQC received hundreds of inquiries from GP practices within a month of publishing its controversial risk ratings, GPonline can reveal.

Ratings: intelligent monitoring tool triggered practice anger
Ratings: intelligent monitoring tool triggered practice anger

GP leaders have been in regular talks with the watchdog since its ‘intelligent monitoring’ data led to claims in national media that one in six GP practices in England were failing.

CQC officials were forced into a U-turn on ratings for some practices just three weeks after the initial data was made public, withdrawing one indicator and amending four others.

The move led to 60 practices initially placed in ‘high risk’ bands by the CQC being moved into lower bands, while seven moved from ‘low risk’ to ‘high risk’ categories.

Monitoring tool

Now, the watchdog is ‘working in consultation with the sector’ to develop how its monitoring tool will work in future in conjunction with inspections and official practice ratings.

A CQC spokesman told GP that the intelligent monitoring tool criteria could change again in future. ‘We amended the data as a result of withdrawing one indicator and amending four others,’ he said. ‘Data has not been changed in any other cases, although other changes will be considered as part of our review of feedback and may be implemented when we next refresh the data.’

Despite the CQC’s risk ratings triggering hundreds of claims that practices were failing in local and national media, the CQC has maintained from the outset that placing practices in risk bands was ‘not a judgment’ of their quality.

Read more: GPs demand CQC compensation

The CQC spokesman added that the CQC had ‘updated our website page on intelligent monitoring to note there will be variation in the data, for example, around local QOF schemes, university practices and the fact that we don’t have metrics for all domains’.

‘We will be considering all these aspects for the next refresh, working in consultation with the sector,’ he said.

The spokesman confirmed that once practices have been inspected and rated, they will be removed from the intelligent monitoring tool’s risk bands.

The CQC has yet to define how quickly this will happen. From early in the new year, hundreds of inspection reports and ratings could be published each week, and it is likely that public risk rating data will be ‘refreshed’ periodically rather than instantly as each rating comes through.

Once practices have been rated, the CQC will continue to check their performance through the intelligent monitoring data even though they will not appear in a risk band publicly. At some stage after an inspection, it is possible that practices’ risk bands will be made public again ahead of their next CQC inspection.

The CQC spokesman confirmed that 823 inquiries had been received from practices. The watchdog was unable to say what proportion of these related to practices questioning the accuracy of the data used to place them in a risk band.

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