Inspections take too much time away from patients, GPs warn

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) are calling for an emergency ‘pause’ in routine inspections of GP practices to relieve pressure on surgeries ‘on the brink of meltdown’. They claim that the current process forces GPs to take time away from ‘where they are needed most - delivering safe care to patients and reducing waiting times for GP appointments’.

Delegates at the British Medical Association Annual Conference in Liverpool voted in favour of a motion saying that the current Care Quality Commission regime was ‘unfit for purpose’. They accused the health watchdogs of an ‘overly bureaucratic’ and ‘nitpicking’ approach.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chairman, said: “The BMA’s GP committee has been voicing significant concerns about the CQC’s operation, particularly the overly bureaucratic and often nit-picking assessments that are wasting days of valuable GP and staff time that could be being spent on treating patients.”

In an open letter to the Health Secretary, RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker said: “In the view of RCGP Council, the current inspection process tends to focus on those things that can be most easily documented and generates considerable additional clinical and administrative activity for practices. We believe that the time has come to conduct an urgent review of the CQC’s regulatory regime, to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and to ensure that it reflects the distinctive nature of general practice and focusses on what matters most to patients.
“Whilst this takes place, we call for the CQC’s programme of routine inspections to be halted on a temporary basis, as a means of alleviating the pressures on general practice which have now reached such an extent that they are giving rise to serious patient safety concerns. This would not, of course, preclude the CQC from conducting inspections of practices where specific reasons existed for doing so, for instance were a practice to be subject to a significant level of complaints.”

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