GP practices told by CQC: Improve on inadequacies in 6 months or close up

14 August 2014

GP practices told by CQC: Improve on inadequacies in 6 months or close up

New plans being introduced in England will lead to the closing of struggling GP practices if they do not make improvements after being given six months to do so.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has confirmed that the special measures regime currently being used for hospitals will also be extended to GPs, marking the first time that GPs will face a regime on a national basis to deal with failures in their practices.

GP surgeries that are given the bottom rating - inadequate - will get six months or a year to make immediate improvements before facing being shut down.

Prof Steve Fields, Chief Inspector of General Practice at the CQC, commented that:

"The vast majority of GPs do a great job in England"

"Most GP practices provide good care, but we can't allow those that provide poor care to continue to let their patients have an inadequate service."

From October a new system of inspections will commence which will involve almost 8,000 GP surgeries being inspected by March 2016. Under the new inspection regime each surgery will be given a rating of either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. This sets a more rigorous standard for assessment as at the present time GP surgeries just have to say whether they are compliant with a set of core standards.

If the CQC decides to give a GP practice an inadequate rating it will have six months to improve. frequently deals with complaints and enquiries from members of the public regarding GP related medical negligence and medical mistreatment, with rising complaints about the standard of GP practices and the treatment offered within. These have sometimes resulted in medical misdiagnosis claims or delay which has worsened an existing condition or led to it being missed entirely resulting in avoidable harm to the patient and their loved ones.

Six months to improve under special measures

If they fail to show signs of improvement they will be placed in special measures and given another six months.

If some of the issues raised are extremely serious then the GP practice can be placed straight into special measures.

If a GP surgery is in special measures, they will be given some support to implement improvements. This assistance is still to be confirmed in how it will work but may mirror that given to hospitals such as having senior managers come in to enforce immediate change or partnering poor trusts with good ones.

If the GP practice has shown a failure to improve whilst in special measures the CQC will withdraw its registration or NHS England will terminate the contract, either consequence resulting in the GP being unable to continue in its present form-resulting in patients having to see new GPs who take over or told to go to alternative local surgeries.

Holding medical mistreatment to account

Royal College of GPs chair Dr Maureen Baker said:

"Patients should expect high quality and consistent care from every GP practice and the vast majority of practices do an excellent job.

"But there is occasionally a very real variation in the quality of care provided and this must be addressed."

Whilst recognising this she mentioned that other "factors beyond their control" were behind problems at GP surgeries such as increased patient demand and lack of funding.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, of the British Medical Association, added: "It is right GPs are held to account, but in many circumstances failures are more about the environment they work in than the individual practice."

Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said: "It is about time we had something like this. But it does seem like a very long time for patients to be exposed to poor care while GP practices try to sort themselves out."

What you can do

If you or a loved one has experienced GP related medical mistreatment and medical negligence the specialist teams at can offer you FREE advice about what your patient rights and options are whether you want to make a complaint or are querying about whether you can make a GP related medical negligence claim.