GPs face overlapping regulation, admits CQC official

GPs face overlapping regulation from watchdogs and NHS organisations, a CQC official has admitted, as doctors set out concerns that the profession is 'hyper-regulated'.

Paperwork: GPs face overlapping regulation (Photo: iStock)
Paperwork: GPs face overlapping regulation (Photo: iStock)

Dr Peter Davies, CQC regional adviser in general practice for the north of England – also a working sessional GP – said there were 'areas of overlap' between regulation work carried out by the CQC, GMC and NHS England.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum conference in London on Wednesday, he added that he was aware of a sense of nervousness among the profession regarding regulators' powers, and said the three organisations were looking to make systems more supportive.

He defended the regulatory overlaps, arguing that it allows for collaboration between regulators because each looks at the same areas from different perspectives.

GP regulation

His comments followed warnings from several leading GPs at the meeting that the profession was suffering from ‘hyper-regulation’.

Referring to the CQC, the GMC and NHS England's role in managing the GP performers list, Dr Davies said: ‘There are currently three circles of regulation and each of them asks a slightly different question, and I'm not sure that this regulatory world is sitting fully comfortably for GPs at the moment.

‘There are areas of overlap between all these three regulators, each of them has a slightly different lens to look at the problem through, but the question is – between us can we define a problem accurately and can we then get appropriate remedial action taken if needed?

‘At the CQC we are asking, does this practice work well as a clinical unit? We ask the same questions of hospitals etc, across the whole of health and social care.

‘The GMC asks should you still be a doctor. And then we have the NHS England performers list regulations which overlap with this – it asks, are you fit for your current role?

Good medical practice

‘We do have regular meetings together and we do discuss cases. We try to get the problem defined in the right way – is it a dysfunctional individual? Then you ask the GMC question. Is this a breach of good medical practice? Or is this a problem with the practice as a whole?’

He added that the regulators were looking to make inspections ‘supportive as well as challenging’ to tackle the current sense of nervousness among GPs about inspections and regulatory processes.

‘There’s nervousness about regulation, there’s nervousness about the burden regulation makes, about its proportionality, its fairness,’ he said. ‘And the regulators have got significant powers – so there is some threat behind regulators.

‘I think there’s a need for some form of regulation because of bottom-end performers which do need to be dealt with, but we do need to do it in a way that’s proportionate to the risk that needs to be managed. And in a way which ensures patient safety and good systems but only flags practices when there's significant risk to be managed, and the rest of people just have it in the background.’

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