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CQC clarifies what special measures mean for practices

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The CQC will pilot a 'special measures' scheme for practices not meeting targets.

From 1 October, the CQC will begin to inspect 8000 general practices around the country and those deemed inadequate will trial the system of 'special measures'. A CQC consultation, and recent media reports, suggested that practices placed in special measures would face closure if they did not improve within six months. However, the CQC has said that it will use feedback from the pilots to decide exactly what being placed in special measures will mean for a practice.

'Most GP practices provide good care,' said Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC. 'We have confirmed this in our pilot inspections so far. We can't allow those that provide poor care to continue to let their patients have an inadequate service. I want to do all I can to drive up standards in those that are not providing services people deserve.'

Commenting on how practice nurses might influence how well a practice serves patients, Tina Bishop, chair of the RCN's practice nurse association, said: 'Practice nurses have a professional responsibility to raise any issues with management, as stated in the NMC code of conduct. Anyone can contact the CQC if they have concerns about a practice.'

Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA's GP committee, said: 'It is important not to create a counterproductive blame culture based on isolated examples that would wrongly damage patient trust in wider GP services. Where there are issues, we need to understand the reasons for any shortcomings. This is particularly important as GP practices are operating in a difficult environment and some are constrained from providing the best care they want to.'

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