The Care Quality Commission (CQC) should order an independent review of its GP practice inspections to determine if there is an association between rating and partner ethnicity, the Royal College of GPs’ (RCGP) Council has said.
The RCGP Council said yesterday (1 March) that the review should look at the inspections of GP practices rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ over the past five years – including those practices which have been closed down due to CQC regulations.
If an an association is found the CQC should explain the reasons, with a view to ‘tackling evidence of less favourable treatment of BAME GPs and their practices’, the RCGP said.
This would help to improve transparency in its processes and build confidence in the CQC, it added.
The RCGP Council also called for two other measures to be taken so that the CQC can assess the impact its inspections have on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) GPs.
In addition to commissioning an independent review, the RCGP called on the CQC to share details of former, ongoing or planned studies to explore whether there is evidence of the conduct or outcomes of its inspections being affected by the ethnicity and country of qualification of practising GPs.
The RCGP also invited the watchdog to ‘discuss how the availability and transparency of such information can be improved, and to ensure that Black Asian and Minority Ethnic GPs’ experiences of being regulated by the CQC are heard’.
Gary Howsam, vice chair for external affairs at RCGP, said: ‘The College’s BAME action plan commits us to delivering positive change for all our black, Asian and minority ethnic members and we will continue to work constructively with the CQC towards an improved system of inspection that is supportive of GPs and keeps patients safe as we move away from the immediate crisis of the pandemic and into recovery.’
The RCGP Council also said it will be meeting with Rosie Benneyworth, CQC’s chief inspector of primary medical services.
Dr Benneyworth said: ‘We know that there are longstanding concerns that GP practices which are led by Black or minority ethnic (BME) GPs are more likely to receive lower ratings.’
She added: ‘We are committed to understanding and addressing inequalities wherever they may occur in health and social care. We don’t have all the answers and are limited by the data available, but we will work with our partners, including the RCGP and fellow regulators in this space and are already taking steps to do so.’
Last month, the CQC said it was planning to collect and monitor the ethnicity data of GP providers to see if it ‘could be a factor’ in the inspection ratings awarded to practices.