Failing GP Practices are to face closure under plans being unveiled in England – is this a necessary move and should it be welcomed?
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced that the special sanction that has been used in hospitals following the Stafford Hospital scandal is to be extended to GP practices.
I, like many others, was shocked and saddened to read about the poor hospital care that was afforded to patients at Stafford Hospital in the late 2000’s.The Public Inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal revealed how vulnerable patients were admitted to hospital for specialist care, but, in fact received very poor care causing them and their families additional suffering.
While I believe the majority of doctor’s and nurses and those in the caring profession do a take pride in their work and do an excellent job, as a clinical negligence solicitor, I see, all to often, situations where patients receive poor care. I believe changes implemented to improve standards of care and to ensure a situation like that seen at Stafford Hospital does not happen again, anywhere, would be welcomed by myself, patients and those in the medical profession.
The Care Quality Commission has now unveiled a regime to monitor care afforded to patients in GP practices. This the first time there will be a national failure regime for the profession.
The regime is to get underway in October and will involve 8,000 practices being inspected in March 2016. Each surgery will be given a rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. To date, practices have just had to confirm whether they are compliant with a set of core standards.
GP practices given an inadequate rating by the CQC will be given 6 months to improve. If after that hey have not managed to move out of the bottom rating they will be placed in special measures and given another 6 months. Where there are extremely serious issues raised a practice can be placed straight into special measures.
While practices are in special measures, they will be given some support (yet to be defined) to turn themselves around. For hospitals that involved being buddied with good trusts and having senior managers brought in.
Failure to improve while in specialist measures will lead to the CQC withdrawing registration or NHS England terminating the practice’s contract. For patients of those practices, it is intended that either new GPs will take over or, alternative local surgeries found.
I personally welcome the move to better monitoring of GP practices. We often see client’s who have received poor GP care or poor care in hospitals leading to them suffering delay in diagnosis, misdiagnosis or difficulty accessing treatment which in turn causes more significant injuries. It is therefore important that we learn from these cases, and the Stafford Hospital scandal, to improve care for patients in all of our healthcare institutions and the CQC plans to monitor GP practices seems a positive step.