Exclusive: Half of GP practices in England have been rated by the CQC

The CQC has hit the milestone of publishing inspection reports for just over half of GP practices in England, giving it 10 months to get through the remaining 3,800 by the end of the financial year.

The CQC has published inspection reports for over 3,860 GP practices, amounting to around half of the 7,600 practices in England.

GP practices have largely performed strongly in the process. At the halfway mark, 4% have been rated ‘outstanding’ – over 150 practices in total. The overwhelming majority have been rated ‘good’, with 82% of practices holding this rating.

Around one in nine (11%) GP practices hold a ‘requires improvement’ rating, with just 4% rated ‘inadequate’.

Following plans unveiled last month to overhaul the way the CQC regulates providers, the majority of practices rated in the top two categories will likely not be visited again by inspectors for up to five years.

Instead, they will be expected to send comprehensive annual data to the CQC in a form of co-regulation to prove they are maintaing good quality care.

Map: CQC GP ratings

Almost 150 practices have been rated twice, with a second inspection triggered by an initial low rating. Over 90% of these made an improvement, according to the CQC – with two thirds improving to such an extent they secured a higher rating.

The CQC says 47 practices have graduated from its special measures programme, which the majority of practices rated inadequate are automatically enrolled into to support them in making improvements.

The watchdog has given itself a deadline of 31 March 2017 to inspect and rate all practices in England, giving it the next 10 months to inspect the other half of practices.

With around 3,800 practices remaining, it must inspect, rate and release reports for at least 90 practices a week to meet this target.

The CQC took 20 months – over a year and a half – to get through the first half, meaning it must double its average pace up to this point.

But it has stepped up the pace on releasing reports in recent weeks, often publishing over 100 a week, suggesting it is now on track to meet the target.

Inspection target

The deadline is the third set by the watchdog, which had to extend it from 31 March 2016 and then 30 September 2016 after it became clear a shortage of inspectors had created a bottleneck in its capacity to visit practices.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice, said: ‘We have found that most care is good – with over 100 practices now rated outstanding.

‘That means that over 1m patients in England currently receive care from practices which we have rated outstanding. What’s enormously encouraging is that our inspections are driving improvement – 90% of practices that we have re-inspected have improved since last October.

‘There is still too much poor care. Since we began inspecting GP practices in October 2014 we have found over 100 practices to be inadequate. While this is a minority, this still amounts to over half a million patients in England who were not receiving the basic standards of care that they should be able to expect from their GP practice.

‘I am glad to say that we have increasingly found that most practices that are placed in special measures use the support that is on offer to meet those standards.’

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