One Third of GP Practices Fail to Meet Basic Standards

The first national inspection of over 900 GP surgeries in Englandhas revealed that approximately one third are failing to meet basic standards.

The Care Quality Commission recently published its findings, which included poor levels of cleanliness, poor management of medicines and maggots found at two of the practices. There were reports of visibly dirty practices, emergency medication being out of date and a consultation room with no door.

In nine cases the failings were so serious that they could "potentially affect thousands of people", the CQC said. Of the 910 GP surgeries inspected, 80% were targeted because of known concerns. The remainder were chosen at random. The CQC is aiming to inspect all 8,000 practices over the following two years and give them one of four ratings - "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" and "inadequate" - as is happening with hospitals.

Whilst the number of very poor practices was approximately 9 or 10 of the 910 surgeries inspected, the impact of out of date medication or vaccines stored in faulty refrigerators could affect a large number of people. Yet analysis by the Royal College of GPs suggests that over the past three years, investment in general practice has fallen by £400m in real terms, which it says is equivalent to a 7% cut per patient.

Patients have the right to expect high quality and consistent care from their local GP Practice. However although shortfalls are being identified, pushing for improvements in management and raising standards, while GPs are facing increasing workloads and further cuts, will no doubt provide a further challenge in itself.