The Care Quality Commission has launched a publicly available online “intelligent monitoring” database, which lists the majority of national GP surgeries in terms of priority for inspection.
The surgeries are ranked 1 to 6, with 1 representing an urgent need for inspection and 6 with little or no need for inspection. The database is not a ranking of best-to-worst for GP surgeries but gives patients an idea of the relative performance of their local surgeries, with each surgery having a data report from the latest inspection, where available, based upon 38 sets of criteria.
The CQC explained, “the bandings are not judgements; these only happen following inspection. While CQC can only judge the quality of care within a service once it has carried out an inspection, the analysis indicates which services appear to be doing well, alongside where people may not be receiving high-quality and compassionate care.”
But the British Medical Association criticised the bandings exercise as “simplistic”, arguing that the data may mislead or confuse patients.
The deputy chair of the BMA’s GPs committee, Dr Richard Vautrey expressed concern at the programme, “publishing data with no context about a GP practice before inspectors have even arrived will at best confuse patients and at worst mislead them”.
“It will not give an accurate picture of how GP services are operating. The information does not take into account the differing circumstances GP practices operate in, including levels of deprivation in the community they deliver care to or the state of their facilities,” he added.