GPs and practice staff are calling for a full overhaul of inspections, accusing inspectors of being “aggressive and unreasonable.”
A round robin letter, currently signed by 140 doctors and other staff, says it is “unfortunate and unacceptable” that the Care Quality Commission has resumed normal inspections. It says the approach of the CQC can no longer be tolerated.
The letter was triggered by an incident in which a non-clinical inspector pressed a GP to stock a drug for severe heart failure, Furosemide. It says threats of fines, closures and imprisonment have caused stress and physical and mental health problems. It calls for inspections to be suspended entirely until the pandemic is over.
The letter goes on: “We call for a full investigation into such practices and behaviours demonstrated by CQC. We collectively feel that bullying, harassment, victimisation and abuse have no place in modern society. The NHS upholds a zero tolerance policy to such attitudes and we therefore demand that CQC respect our position.”
It adds: “We all strive for best practice and safe services, and we call for a simplified, uniform, scientific, evidence-based approach to CQC inspections, grounded in mutual respect, understanding, collaboration and support to help us provide the best possible care for our patients.”
The CQC’s chief inspector of primary care Dr Rosie Benneyworth told GP Online: “Our inspection teams understand the pressures that GPs and practice teams have faced, during this unprecedented time as well as before. That is why we suspended routine, frequency-based inspections in March 2020. It is also why we worked with the sector to respond and adapt – finding ways to support providers while balancing our duty to provide public reassurance.
“Unprofessional behaviour or discrimination of any kind is not acceptable. We work closely with the providers we regulate to make sure that the relationship between a service and the inspection team works for them, for CQC and the people who use services. We would urge anyone with concerns about their inspection to raise those with us so they can be properly addressed – this can be done locally with the inspection team or the inspection manager, or through the dedicated complaints procedure.”
A recent update from the CQC says it is resuming practice inspections where breaches of regulations are identified or where services have previously been rated as requiring improvement.