Exclusive: Most GPs rate the CQC 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement'

Two thirds of GPs whose practices have been inspected by the CQC rate the watchdog 'requires improvement' or 'inadequate' on the scale it uses to assess health providers, a GPOnline survey shows.

Inspection: GP practices critical of CQC checks
Inspection: GP practices critical of CQC checks

When asked how they would rate their experience on the CQC’s own four-point scale, 38% of the 164 GPs polled awarded it a score of ‘requires improvement’.

The CQC's website says this rating indicates a service 'isn't performing as well as it should'.

A quarter (24%) of respondents - comprised of GPs whose practices have already been inspected - rated the process ‘inadequate’, the watchdog's lowest rating.

Practices scored in this category are usually placed in a special measures programme and, if they fail to show improvements within 12 months, they are then forcibly closed.

But a third (32%) said the experience had been a positive one, rating their inspection as ‘good’. A further 6% gave the watchdog the top mark of ‘outstanding’.

Map: CQC ratings by CCG area

Over 800 GP practices – equivalent to more than one in 10 overall – have now been visited and rated by the CQC.

The regulator has been somewhat less scathing in its own judgments, with 85% of practices praised as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. It has found 11% of practices to ‘require improvement’ and 4% to be ‘inadequate’.

One GP said they rated the CQC as ‘inadequate’ after their inspection ‘reduced staff to tears’, while another claimed inspectors had been ‘aggressive with staff and rude to patients’.

Another criticised the CQC’s use of retired GPs as specialist inspectors and questioned its priorities during inspections.

The GP said the inspector 'had not practised for two years and had no idea' about some areas of practice work. 'They were more interested in the dust on the skirting boards,’ said the GP.

'We know GPs have confidence in us'

But one GP said the CQC inspectors had been ‘lovely and supportive’, even though the inspection itself had been ‘immensely stressful’.

A CQC spokeswoman said its own surveys showed that the majority of practices trusted the CQC and found the inspection process useful.

She told GPOnline: ‘Over 90% of surgeries inspected and surveyed last year said our teams provided clear information about the inspection process. A total of 70% said their inspection helped them reflect on how they could improve and this is how we know GPs have confidence in the CQC.’

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