Safety is the biggest concern among private primary care services, the CQC has revealed.
A new CQC report, published today, analysed CQC inspections of private medical services – including private GP services and clinicians registered with the GMC – in England between January 2017 and October 2018.
It revealed that almost half of independent doctor services, 32 out of 66, were not providing safe care when inspected the first time by the CQC.
However, the report said that 10 out of 14 independent doctors were found to have improved ‘upon re-inspection’.
The report, The state of care in independent doctor and clinic services providing primary medical care, also analysed the results of inspections carried out in private specialist clinics such as circumcision, slimming allergy, and travel clinics.
From next month, the CQC will start introducing ratings for independent services, which are currently inspected according to the same criteria as public providers but do not receive a rating.
Areas of concerns
The CQC was specifically concerned about safety of treatment at circumcision clinics. It found that although the clinics had systems in place to obtain consent forms from parents and guardians, they sometimes failed to get written consent before a procedure.
Among all independent providers, the CQC highlighted concerns related to the efficacy of prescribing, poor record keeping, and a lack of communication with patients’ NHS GP.
Independent providers were often unable to share their data with NHS GP practices due to a lack of common or shared IT systems, the report found.
As reported by our sister publication earlier this month, many online GP providers are experiencing interoperability issues with the NHS App, which is expected to be available to all patients by July.
CQC deputy chief inspector of general practice and lead for independent providers Ursula Gallagher said:
‘Too often we saw poor prescribing practice and providers with a limited awareness of their responsibilities – not just to their patients but to the wider healthcare system.
I hope this report will help providers and others to identify what they need to do and where they might focus their efforts.
She added: ‘Everyone providing these types of services has a legal responsibility to offer safe, high-quality care that not only meets the needs of the people using it, but also meets the legal requirements that exist to protect patients.
Where this isn’t the case and we see risks to patient safety, we will not, and have not, hesitated to stop providers from operating.’