DOCTORS’ surgeries could be shut down under a new Ofsted-style inspection due to start later this year.
The Care Quality Commission has today announced that GP practices providing inadequate care will be given deadlines for improvement or face closure.
A pilot system of ‘special measures’ will start in October and cover all practices in England.
Surgeries will face longer inspections than currently undertaken and four outcomes can be given – outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.
Where aspects of a service are rated inadequate, practices will have six months to improve.
If they fail to get better they will be put into special measures and if after a maximum of a further six months they are still found to be inadequate, they will have their registration with CQC cancelled and/or their contract ended by NHS England.
The idea has been cautiously welcomed by Healthwatch Hampshire, a patient support group.
Manager Steven Taylor said: ‘GP practices are under extreme pressure already.
‘We have nothing against them being scrutinised more, but a lot are doing their best under the circumstances they face.
‘Where improvements need to be made there needs to be support.’
In cases where patients are at risk, or little confidence in the practice’s capacity to improve on its own, then the practice will be placed straight into special measures.
Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice, said: ‘Most GP practices provide good care. But we can’t allow those that provide poor care to continue to let their patients have an inadequate service.’