GP who secretly filmed CQC inspection suspended for two months

A single-handed GP who made covert audio and video recordings of his CQC inspection and published them online has been suspended for two months.

Dr Hendrik Beerstecher, who runs the 111 Canterbury Road surgery in Kent, made the recordings in 2016 and posted them on his practice website after the CQC rated his practice ‘inadequate’.

The Kent GP said he had originally ‘not intended’ to publish the recordings, but made them to protect himself after 'bad experiences' with NHS authorities. He decided to make the recordings public after his practice was found inadequate ‘based on disputed facts'.

Dr Beerstecher told GPonline in 2016 that he had published the videos along with correspondence between himself and the CQC to allow people to 'judge for themselves' whether his practice had been treated fairly.

CQC rating

In his initial response to the inadequate CQC rating, Dr Beerstecher argued that some points raised by the regulator – such as opening hours not being displayed – were ‘plainly untrue’, while others - such as no female GP being available at the single-handed practice - were unreasonable. The CQC accepted some of his points, but rejected many others and upheld the inadequate rating.

The watchdog has hit out at the Kent GP's decision to publish recordings online, calling it 'a very difficult and upsetting experience for our inspection team'.

At a hearing last month, Dr Beerstecher's fitness to practise was judged by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) to be ‘impaired by reason of misconduct’.

An MPTS report dated 19 November 2018 reads: ‘The Tribunal determined that it was appropriate and proportionate to suspend Dr Beerstecher’s registration for a period of two months. This would give Dr Beerstecher the opportunity to reflect on the actions that led to his misconduct, the gravity of it and allow him to fully remediate.’

Patient satisfaction

The practice has since been rated 'good' after a follow-up inspection - and has an above average patient satisfaction score, with 86% of patients rating their overall experience as good.

The tribunal report highlighted that as of 19 November the Kent GP had ‘failed to remove the covertly recorded material’, demonstrating a ‘lack of insight… on the impact his actions continue to have on patients, colleagues and public confidence in the profession.’

However, Dr Beerstecher has now removed the recordings from his practice website. He told GPonline that after feeling he had been treated poorly over many years by 'various NHS organisations', he had 'sadly let myself be dragged down to using public shaming and ridicule, which I feel is the purpose of the CQC in publishing reports on practices'.

Dr Beerstecher backed the ‘oversight and inspection of healthcare', but warned: ‘It should be applied equitably and should not set unreasonable standards.

Best practice

‘I believe that far more could be achieved by spreading examples of good practice, of efficiency, rather than a regime of public naming and shaming, making 8,000 practices all invent the wheel over again,’ he said.

Ruth Rankine, Deputy Chief Inspector of general practice at the Care Quality Commission said, 'Our staff are dedicated to making sure that people get safe, compassionate and high-quality healthcare. This was a very difficult and upsetting experience for our inspection team who should be able to do their job of regulating and inspecting general practice without experiencing this type of treatment by medical professionals.'

Dr Beerstecher’s suspension will take effect from 18 December, although if he lodges an appeal within the 28-day timeframe he will remain free to practise unrestricted until the outcome of any appeal is known.

In 2018, the CQC rated 96% of practices as 'good' or 'outstanding' despite rising pressure. Less than 4% of practices were rated 'requires improvement', and less than 1% were rated 'inadequate'.

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