CQC to Send ‘OFSTED-style’ Letters to Patients

The CQC is considering sending ‘OFSTED-style letters’ to patients of GP practices where it has found unacceptable failings or inadequate care.

This comes about following CQC’s findings from its first wave of inspections of practices. The vast majority of the inspections were targeted, with some random inspections, and CQC found 34% of practices had failed one of the inspection standards, with some having very serious failings.

Following these inspections, GP leaders warned that the sample of practices inspected did not necessarily represent the true picture of general practice as there had already been concerns raised about the vast majority of them. GPs also said this was a wake-up call for the Government to increase resources for practices.

Professor Field said, ‘We’ve asked to look at things which are really important from a safety point of view, and around about a third have problems. The really serious ones, at the moment, are less than 2%. But because we’ve done some targeted ones, and some random ones… I think the message is “we can all do better”, but some practices are brilliant and we haven’t looked at the brilliant ones, systematically.’

Professor Field said that the OFSTED system of writing to pupils in a language they understand was ‘a great one’. He said he was searching for ways to ensure patients ‘really know’ when their practice is inadequate.

He said, ‘….I will write an open letter to practices, to the patients in each practice – hopefully using the press – that will be published on their website. There is a question, about whether I should personally write to all the patients in the really, really bad practices, in the inadequate practices, and we’re looking at whether that’s feasible… in OFSTED they write a letter to… the… school pupils…in a language they understand. I think the principle is a great one, so it will be an open-letter to patients. If there’s a practice which is really, really inadequate, the question which I’m toying with in my mind is how you make sure patients really, really know.’

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