Poor GP practices could face closure under new plans
Poorly performing GP surgeries could be forced to close in England under a new policy announced by the NHS health regulator which comes in to place this October.
Any surgeries that do not meet the current standards set by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be shut down if improvements are not made quick enough, forcing the patients to move to the next available surgery in their area.
The move involves nearly 8,000 surgeries throughout England that will be inspected and graded on a scale rating of either “outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate”. Those that fall below standard will be given a deadline to implement a plan of special measures, with the help of NHS England, who currently funds GP practices.
Although the objective is to improve health care standards throughout England, it is inevitable that any closures will have a knock on effect for the GP practices in the surrounding areas. Experts deem a sudden increase in patients could affect the standard of service of those surgeries previously been graded “very good” and force them to take special measures to cater for the rise in patient numbers.
A GP from Lancashire Dr David Wrigley commented: “It’s inevitable that there are pockets of below average standards of care across the country, but I think this is all part of the government’s trash the NHS agenda and the CQC are doing the bidding for them.”
Over 100 GP surgeries in England – most in deprived inner city areas or remote rural areas – have been threatened with closure as the government recently announced there would be changes to how GP surgeries are funded.
CQC will also use patient complaints, whistleblowers and information gathered by local bodies such as Healthwatch to determine which surgeries are putting their patients at risk.
This policy of “national failure regime for the profession” comes days after a GP surgery in Braintree put up notices advising patients not to complain about the surgery on social media under breach of their “zero tolerance policy” but requested instead to complain to the practice manager.