Exclusive: GP practices twice as likely as other providers to win top CQC ratings

GP practices have outperformed hospitals, care homes and other healthcare providers in CQC inspections, prompting doubts over the value of such expensive inspections to regulate the profession.

CQC ratings: GPs outperform other sectors
CQC ratings: GPs outperform other sectors

GP practices are over twice as likely as hospitals, dentists, mental health services and community services to be rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ by the CQC, and nearly 1.5 times as likely as care homes, GPonline can reveal.

The GPC warned that GPs are paying for an expensive inspection regime that is not necessary for the vast majority of practices.

Just 4% of practices have been rated ‘inadequate’, considerably fewer than the proportion of hospitals and mental health services, both of which stand at 8%.

The overwhelmingly positive picture painted by inspectors suggests that patients are more likely to receive ‘safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led’ care at their local practice than any other healthcare setting.

Map: CQC GP ratings

Some 84% of practices have been awarded one of the top two grades in inspections to date. In comparison, CQC figures show just 33% of hospitals, 33% of community services and 31% of dentists received the same ratings.

Around 44% of mental health services have been found ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, along with 61% of care homes and 78% of clinics.

The GPC demanded last week that the CQC scrap GP practice inspections altogether when it defines its new approach to regulation, as the high number of positive ratings showed ‘there was no point’.

‘What we've seen throughout the inspection process so far is general practice is performing far better than many elements of the public sector,’ GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline.

High GP performance

‘So if CQC is going to utilise its skills and focus on a particular area, they need to focus on the areas that are the real problem – and that’s not general practice.

‘We want to see the burden on practices reduced, the costs of the system significantly reduced – because effectively practices are paying for this service.’

A new approach to CQC regulation will come into effect from October 2016, by which time all GP practices will have been inspected, assessed and rated under the current regime. CQC has aired the possibility of adopting a ‘lighter touch’ to GP regulation at this time.

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