Viewpoint: CQC must offer GPs a fair trial, says Dr Andrew Green

The CQC's decision to publish GP practice risk ratings will make it difficult for its inspectors to offer primary care providers a fair trial, argues GPC member Dr Andrew Green. Below, writing for GPonline, he argues that practices should now be inspected in random order to avoid biased inspections.

Dr Andrew Green: CQC inspections undermined (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Andrew Green: CQC inspections undermined (Photo: JH Lancy)

If someone is to be put on trial, it's essential that the process is fair. And make no mistake about it, in a CQC inspection GPs are on trial - a trial of our practice, our staff, ourselves, and all we have worked for since leaving school.

Even in the most minor of criminal trials, steps are taken to ensure that those forming judgments do so without preconceptions, yet the CQC is sending inspectors into practices having done exactly the opposite, having primed them to expect a practice which might be putting its patients at risk.

Even if they try to look at the practice with fresh eyes, it is inconceivable that they will not be swayed by their expectations on a subconcious level.

GPs demand CQC compensation

Added to that, the CQC is now under intense pressure about the validity of its banding process, and the easiest way to defuse some of the anger is to 'prove' that the bandings predict performance. This need not be a conscious process for it to be important - there need be no conspiracy, nor any bad intent, only the natural workings of the human mind combined with an unwillingness to accept the possibility of error.

Such worries are hardly controversial, as the whole concept of the blinding of clinical trials has come about in recognition of these issues. Just as researchers are not offended by the necessity for such precautions neither should staff at the CQC be offended. Being human and so subject to bias is not shameful, but not recognising that fact or protecting others from the harmful effects of it is.

So what needs to be done? The banding process is clearly damaged beyond repair and the CQC ought to recognise the harm that will be done not only to practices but also to their own credibility by pursuing it. From now on, practices need to be inspected in random order to avoid inspectors bringing preconceptions to the process, and the CQC needs to learn that there is a difference between the release of data and the sharing of knowledge.

Dr Andrew Green is a Yorkshire GP, and clinical and prescribing lead for the GPC

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

NHS England to redesign GP appraisal in light of COVID-19 pandemic

NHS England to redesign GP appraisal in light of COVID-19 pandemic

GP appraisals are being redesigned to have a greater focus on wellbeing and reduced...

Primary care to lose millions in funding unless PCNs hit recruitment targets in pandemic

Primary care to lose millions in funding unless PCNs hit recruitment targets in pandemic

Hundreds of millions of pounds could be lost to primary care if primary care networks...

Practices told to prepare for 'major expansion' of flu vaccination as QOF pared back for 2020/21

Practices told to prepare for 'major expansion' of flu vaccination as QOF pared back for 2020/21

GP practices have been told to 'gear up for a major expansion of the winter flu programme'...

NHS England unveils GP contract plans for second phase of COVID-19 response

NHS England unveils GP contract plans for second phase of COVID-19 response

GPs have been told to re-start health checks and other suspended services as NHS...

More than 80% of patients report 'good' overall experience of general practice

More than 80% of patients report 'good' overall experience of general practice

Public satisfaction with GP services remains high, with 82% of patients reporting...

GPs condemn 'deafening silence' from chancellor on COVID support funding

GPs condemn 'deafening silence' from chancellor on COVID support funding

GP leaders have condemned a 'deafening silence' on COVID-19 relief funding for general...