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Regulator publishes GP practice risk scale

18 November 2014

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Data on every GP surgery in England has been released by the heath regulator in an attempt to promote transparency around the inspection regime.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has used available data, including the quality and outcomes framework and the GP patient survey to create a scale of risk for each practice from one to six, with six being the ‘lowest perceived concern’.

This ‘intelligent monitoring’, which includes 38 indicators, is aimed to help the CQC prioritise surgeries due to undergo its new inspection regime formerly launched in October.

Professor Steve Field, Chief-inspector of General Practice, stressed that the data was “not a judgment”.

“It is only when we inspect that we can determine if a practice provides high quality and compassionate care. The data is a further tool that will help us decide where to inspect and when.”

The publication follows the CQC’s announcement that Salford Health Matters in Eccles and Irlam Medical Practice 2 in Salford were the first general practices to be awarded ratings of ‘outstanding’ on November 15.

So far, the data has been positive with almost 80% of the 7,200 practices registered as low concern.  Almost 3,800 are in the lowest risk category.

Dr Charles Alessi, co-chairman of the National Association of Primary Care said: “We welcome the emphasis on transparency and quality in the new inspection regime for general practice. The fact that outstanding practice has already been identified is very encouraging.”

However, Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chair of the BMA’s GP committee urged the CQC to “revisit” its decision to publish this data as it would “confuse and mislead patients”.

“Publishing data with no context about a GP practice before inspectors have even arrived will at best confuse patients and at worst mislead them. It will not give an accurate picture of how GP services are operating. The information does not take into account the differing circumstances GP practices operate in, including levels of deprivation in the community they deliver care to or the state of their facilities,” he said.