The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is ‘always interested’ in how GP practices respond to reviews left online by patients, the deputy inspector for primary medical services has said.
Speaking at the Management in Practice virtual festival (20 October), Vicki Wells said the regulator does look at practice reviews on the NHS website (formerly NHS Choices) but would not consider these ‘in isolation’.
She said: ‘This is where it’s really important that we as a regulator are corroborating all of the evidence that we capture, so we would never take in isolation what reviews have been posted.
‘We do look at the reviews, and we are always interested in the provider’s response to those reviews, so I think that [providing a] polite response is helpful.’
She added: ‘If we did see a pattern of negative reviews on NHS Choices it may be something that we have a conversation with you as a practice about – many practices have their own methods of capturing feedback so how the practice responds to that is important for us.’
Complaints during Covid-19
In another festival webinar last month, a medical risk expert said the rise of remote consultations in general practice has increased the risk of complaints from patients.
Meanwhile, earlier in the pandemic, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) pointed to a large number of Covid-19-related complaints against GPs, including around the shielding process, the lack of face-to-face consultations for minor conditions and the wearing of PPE.
Transitional regulatory approach
Ms Wells said the CQC has been evolving its approach to regulation in a way that is ‘sensitive to the changing circumstances of providers, while continuing to put people who use services at the centre’.
She added: ‘Our overarching aim is to continually monitor risk and services and to respond to changes with the right proportionate regulatory action.’
The CQC’s transitional regulatory approach for general practice took effect on 19 October.
Ms Wells said the CQC’s inspection activity under this approach ‘will be more targeted and focused on where there are concerns, without returning to a routine programme of planned inspections’.
She added: ‘We need to strike a balance between making sure we hear people’s experiences of care, and that we accurately assess quality, while at all times minimising the risk of spreading infection, and also not adding unnecessary pressure on the health and care system.
‘We will continue to adapt our transitional approach and remain responsive as the situation changes.’
Primary care networks
Ms Wells also said the regulator has been working closely with primary care networks (PCNs).
‘PCNs are not organisations that we regulate, or that we are planning on regulating, but we are working closely with [them], and we are particularly interested in the additional roles that are being recruited, and understanding more around accountability,’ she said.
‘So when people are working across various different practices – who is responsible and accountable for supporting and supervising those different roles.’