Exclusive: Most GP practices placed in special measures by CQC improve after six months

The majority of GP practices rated 'inadequate' by the CQC and placed into special measures show clear improvements six months later, with as many as two in five jumping to a 'good' rating, preliminary results show.

Most of the first practices initially rated ‘inadequate’ by the CQC have demonstrably improved after a six-month stint in the special measures programme, with eight out of the first 13 (62%) to be re-inspected receiving higher scores after their second inspection.

Five have improved to such an extent that the watchdog now classifies them as ‘good’, while three were bumped up to the lower rating of ‘requires improvement’.

Five of the 13 (38%) were shown to remain ‘inadequate’ during their follow-up inspection, and four of these have now had their registration cancelled and been shut down.

Two special measures practices had their registration cancelled in emergency moves by the CQC after it found them in breach of several Health and Social Care Act regulations during follow-up inspections.

Map: GP CQC ratings

The other two asked to have their registration cancelled after being found ‘inadequate’ for a second time.

The fifth has had its registration temporarily suspended while the provider rectifies major concerns.

The majority of practices initially rated ‘inadequate’ by the CQC are placed into special measures and given a 12-month deadline to demonstrate improvements. A select few providing care deemed to put patients at risk are closed down immediately.

After around six months in special measures, the CQC will revisit practices and rate them again. If a practice is still found to be ‘inadequate’, it will begin proceedings to cancel their registration, while those that improve can leave the programme.

GP special measures

Just under 100 practices have received an initial rating of 'inadequate' since the CQC launched its current system in October 2014, representing around 4% of overall ratings.

The CQC’s special measures programme was finalised a few months later, with the first practices put into the scheme in January 2015.

The watchdog has only recently begun to release reports for the first practices to undergo a second inspection.

A CQC spokeswoman said: ‘The special measures programme has led to improvements in general practice across England. 93% of practices re-inspected are found to have improved and we are starting to re-inspect practices placed in special measures.

‘Special measures is not a punitive programme, it allows access to further support from NHS England and the RCGP. Our aim is to encourage improvement in care where possible.

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