Dr Rosie Benneyworth’s blog

Monthly column for providers and professionals working in primary medical and dental services from Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care

When I accepted the offer to become CQC’s Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care I knew that I would be building on strong foundations. CQC’s relationship with providers within primary care has come a long way in the last few years and I want to thank my predecessor, Prof. Steve Field for his work. I also want to begin my tenure by thanking you all as providers for the inspiring work that you do.

I have been a GP for many years in Somerset and I recognise and understand the well-documented pressures on the system. I have held a variety of other roles including Vice-Chair NICE, a clinical commissioner and managing director of an Academic Health Science Network.

My role at CQC spans a wide spectrum. There are over 10,000 dental locations registered with CQC, one of our largest provider groups, and they remain one of the sectors with the highest level of compliance with the regulations. The Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board continues to bring together those involved in the regulation and oversight of dentistry to reduce duplication and offer a model for quality improvement.

In general practice, our next phase approach to regulation is currently embedding. From Monday, 1 April, we will introduce annual regulatory reviews to all practices rated good and outstanding. This will bring structure and consistency to our monitoring of GP practices as we move to reinspection intervals of a maximum of five years for practices rated as good and outstanding. We wrote about this last month.

The new primary care contract presents opportunities for the sector, particularly in how practices will work together. Over the last year, CQC has been testing its approach to regulating primary care providers working at scale with a view to reducing duplication, supporting greater consistency in a changing landscape and more effectively encourage improvement.

In addition to this, we continue to develop our approach to regulating within integrated care systems by working with Frimley Health and Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. This work will help us understand how we can work with this type of system in order to continue to protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of people who use services.

An area that continues to evolve is online primary care. We have seen a number of improvements in the sector, and it was good to see this picked up in the HSJ earlier this month. Primary care delivered in this way has an important place in the future of healthcare provision and it’s encouraging to see improvements being made. From Monday, 1 April, we will begin to rate these providers, and have updated our guidance for providers to reflect this.

Over the coming months I aim to talk more about the diverse range of areas that CQC covers, ensuring that people get safe, effective and high-quality care, regardless of the setting.

State of independent consulting doctor services providing primary care and the introduction of ratings

Another area within my remit is the regulation of independent consulting doctors, a diverse sector that privately provides primary medical care, such as private GP services and specialist clinics. This month we published a report analysing a sample of our inspections of these services.

Our inspections have shown that services are generally meeting the necessary regulations. Many respond well to the needs of their patients, as they deliver a caring service that is tailored to people’s specific requirements and needs.

However, in our early inspections where services were not meeting regulations, we found there was limited awareness of the regulatory requirements that apply to all health and care services in all regulated sectors and limited appreciation of the wider professional responsibilities of practitioners.

Where we saw poor practice, we used our powers to take action. Although in many cases, we saw improvement on reinspection simply through better awareness among providers of their responsibilities to their patients and to the wider healthcare system.

Through the publication of this report, and through the introduction of ratings from Monday, 1 April, we expect to see standards continue to improve, particularly in areas such as sharing information appropriately, clinical record keeping, and safe and effective prescribing where we know that the sector needs to do better.

To support the introduction of ratings in this sector we have published updated provider guidance.

I look forward to getting out and meeting many of you over the coming weeks and months.

Have a great month everyone.

Rosie