A storm in a CQC cup

December 5, 2014

A Storm in a CQC cupWhat is Intelligent Monitoring?

As part of their new inspection regime, the CQC published their Intelligent Monitoring report for GP practices across the country last month, understandably it has caused quite a fuss amongst GP Practice and Patient Groups, with many calling it ‘scaremongering’. The Intelligent Monitoring (IM) report collated information, already available in the public domain such as Patient surveys and QOF data, designed to give CQC inspectors a clearer understanding of strengths and weakness of each provider, allowing for targeted inspections visits.

The report was based on 38 indicators where GP practices were scored and risk rated to create priority banding, with band 1 as a practice with the highest concern and band 6 with the lowest concern. Whilst the CQC are claiming that this is part of their new inspection methodology, they claimed a few years ago that they would be compiling a risk profile on each healthcare provider and said practices identified as at high risk could expect to face a toughened up inspection regime, while low risk practices might enjoy a lighter touch approach.

Demoralising an already shattered profession

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham told Pulse “The CQC’s publication of GP practices’ pre-inspection risk assessments risks demoralising an already shattered profession”. Mr Burnham said he supported the principle of more transparency, but said that the CQC should have consulted with the profession before publishing the data. However, the CQC has defended its publication of practices’ risk assessment, saying that people “shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on indicators”. GPs criticised the decision to measure on ‘simplistic’ indicators and said placing them in the public domain created more ‘sticks to beat GPs with’ before they’ve even been through an inspection.

Confusing even for CQC Inspectors?

Undoubtedly the CQC could have planned this better, and this clearly shows with the blunder such as publishing the report after the new regime came into force. CQC inspections were taking place with neither the practice, nor the inspector, knowing exactly what terms of reference were in place and what was about to change.

Even more confusing for practices, is that the new regulations don’t actually come into force until April 2015, although the inspection regime anticipating these started on 1st October 2014, and might be refreshed in 2015, again. It’s no wonder that most practices have been caught completely unprepared by these new changes and feel very angry about it.

However, this report is now public and practices will be assessed against it, whether we like it or not. Therefore, practices should focus on those areas where the CQC has highlighted as not being up to scratch and show them what they’ve been doing about it.

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Alison Lowerson

GP Specialist

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