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CQC: ‘Unacceptable’ variations in care

17 October 2014

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Wide variation in the quality of primary care services has been revealed as a cause for concern in the Care Quality Commission’s (CQCs) annual State of Care report. 

In a report which considers all aspects of care across England, CQC has called on providers to “accept where there are problems and use inspections to drive up quality”. 

Excellent care is being delivered by many frontline staff, the report states, but there are also places where people are not getting the care they should expect. 

State of Care claims that the variation in the quality and safety of care in England is “too wide and unacceptable” and that it will have a detrimental impact on people who use health and social care services and their families. 

A recently released report into GP out-of-hours services showed a system which was able to quickly identify and respond to the needs of people with long-term conditions, complex needs and those needed end of life care. 

The majority of primary care services are well-off, safe, effective, caring and responsive, CQC said. 

However, there were variations in the quality of care. On average, larger GP practices delivered better quality of care than smaller practices. 

David Behan, CQC chief executive said: “Understanding the quality of care is complex – it is about how people experience services, it is about the outcomes of the services and about how safe they are. Quality and safety is underpinned and influenced by the quality of the leadership and the culture that the leadership creates within a provider. We have found in our new more rigorous inspections that being well-led promotes quality and safety overall.

“From our inspections, the safety of services is our biggest concern. Care providers must make the basics of safe care a priority and build a culture of safety in their organisations, learning from the best.” 

Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair of council, said: “It is reassuring that the report has found many examples of excellent care, but every patient should have confidence that the care they receive will be of consistently high quality. 

“Rising demand coupled with a severe funding gap has left many parts of the NHS under extreme pressure, with some services stretched to breaking point. Doctors have told us that the increasing pressure and unmanageable workloads are the greatest barriers to delivering high quality care for patients. 

“The government must urgently address these issues for us to tackle variations in care.”