The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has welcomed the General Practice Forward View, published today (Thursday 21 April 2016) by NHS England.
The report sets out the vision for general practice over the next five years, including increased investment in the sector; expanding and supporting GPs and wider primary care staffing; reducing practice burdens and helping them to release time; developing the primary care estate and investing in better technology, and; providing a major programme of improvement support to practices.
Today’s plans reveal a shared commitment between NHS England, the General Medical Council (GMC) and CQC to reduce the workload and duplication associated with the combined regulation of general practice in England at professional, service and commissioning levels.
In a ‘statement of intent’, the three organisations describe the approach they are taking together to improve the experience of regulation, both from the perspective of general practices and of GPs individually.
This includes improving how information is gathered, shared and accessed between organisations and with practices; aligning regulatory and commissioning processes as much as possible, and; streamlining oversight, regulation and contract management. A 'programme board' will be established between these and other organisations to take this work forward.
The joint commitment follows and supports CQC’s consultation in January 2016 on its wider plans to build on its current regulatory model over the next five years. This will include strengthening how it uses data to inform its work, developing a single view of quality with providers, and targeting and tailoring its inspections to where it has the greatest concerns about care.
The Forward View adds that practices rated as good and outstanding – currently the vast majority – will move to a maximum interval between inspections of five years, subject to the provision of transparent data, available to CQC, NHS England and clinical commissioning groups; and also to CQC remaining assured that the quality of care has not changed significantly since the previous inspection. Where CQC has concerns, it may revisit sooner.
CQC will publish its final strategy document with the full details in May 2016, which will outline further details about how it will develop its regulatory approach.
Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice at the Care Quality Commission, said: "The Forward View sets an inspiring vision for the future of general practice, which quite rightly, acknowledges the irreplaceable role that GPs have within the NHS.
"We know that GPs are under increasing pressure with limited resources, increasing patient demand and a rapidly evolving health and care landscape and so, I am pleased this report sets out the increased support and further investment that they need to do their jobs well and to make sure their patients get the care they deserve.
"We look forward to playing our part in delivering the Forward View as we continue our plans to build on the regulatory model we introduced for general practices over eighteen months ago.
"We have always been clear that regulation across all sectors must continue to be independent, proportionate and driven by patients’ best interests. Our plans do not represent ‘light touch’ regulation or 'self-assessment’ but include a move towards a more risk-based approach to regulation and developing a shared view of quality with general practices, as we head towards having inspected every single one of them in the country at least once.
"Our inspections are allowing us to gain a deep understanding of the quality and safety of general practice that we have never had before in this country and they are leading to real improvements in care. We will continue to encourage this improvement and share examples of outstanding care that we find across England. It is only right that we evolve our model in response to we have learnt and enabled, while improving our effectiveness and adapting to the changing care environment.
"In doing so – and together with NHS England and the General Medical Council – we hope that our plans will reduce any duplication of efforts brought on by our collective regulation and make the system more efficient.
"I share a common goal with the profession, which is to make sure patients get safe, high-quality and compassionate care. I hope that the General Practice Forward View, together with CQC’s own plans for regulation, will make this a reality.".
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