The CQC released its latest batch of inspection reports this week, meaning almost 70 practices have now received official ratings.
The vast majority of practices (79%) have so far received a ‘good’ rating, with four practices (6%) achieving the top grade of ‘outstanding’. Although none have been deemed ‘inadequate’, one in seven have been told they require improvement.
But four of the 52 practices (8%) that have received a ‘good’ rating so far were initially labelled as high risk by the CQC on its Intelligent Monitoring website.
At least one of these practices, the Balance Street Health Centre in Uttoxeter, is highlighted in a local newspaper’s league table as among the ‘worst doctors in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’, despite its actual inspection proving this is not the case.
The practice was placed in band 2 prior to inspection, which – along with band 1 – represents practices the CQC deems to be at high risk of providing poor-quality care.
Although the CQC has always maintained that the banding system does not amount to them passing a judgment on practices, it has been widely interpreted as such in the media and in the eyes of some patients.
A leading primary care solicitor previously told GP that practices in this situation had ‘potentially been defamed’, and could have grounds to claim damages. Two in five GPs said they thought the CQC should compensate any practice they misrepresented in this way.
'Low-risk' practices require improvement
The Boundary House Surgery in Berkshire was also placed in band 2 ahead of inspection, while Elgar House in Worcestershire and the Old Leake Medical Centre in Lincolnshire were assigned to the highest risk band (band 1). All have been officially rated as ‘good’.
Practices with less-positive inspection ratings were also misrepresented by the risk banding system. Of the 10 told that they ‘required improvement’, two (20%) were placed in band 6 ahead of inspections, representing least concern.