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Special measures to target failing GP practices

13 August 2014
  • Public

Today we announced plans to introduce a new 'special measures' regime for GP practices. The scheme will see practices offering poor care given deadlines to make improvements – and faced with closure if they fail.

We will begin to introduce special measures for GP practices from October this year. This will coincide with us starting to rate 8,000 NHS GP practices on the basis of whether they are outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

We plan work closely with NHS England to pilot special measures, in close consultation with the General Medical Council, the Royal College of GPs and others as we develop our approach.

How will it work?

Under the new proposals, when our inspectors rate aspects of a GP practice 'inadequate', we'll give the service six months to improve. Practices that fail to make improvements will be put into special measures, after which they will be given a further six months to meet the standards we require. At the end of their period in special measures, if we still judge them to be inadequate, we will cancel their CQC registration and their contract with NHS England will be terminated.

In some cases, when we believe poor care is putting patients at risk or that a practice is not capable of improving on its own, we will put the practice straight into special measures.

The plans bring GP practices into line with the other sectors we regulate. We recently reported on progress made by the first 11 NHS trusts to be placed in special measures after the regime was adopted by hospitals last year. Last month we announced that a similar scheme would be introduced across the adult social care sector from April next year.

Driving up standards

Professor Field said: "Most GP practices provide good care. We have confirmed this in our pilot inspections so far. But we can't allow those that provide poor care to continue to let their patients have an inadequate service. I want to do all I can to drive up standards in those that are not providing the services people deserve. We need to have a clear framework and a process to respond to those GP practices that are providing inadequate care to ensure that they can't continue to provide inadequate care indefinitely."

"When health and care organisations fail the people to whom they provide care, it's important that failure is identified quickly and the action is to ensure services for people improve. That sits at the heart of special measures."

Last updated:
29 May 2017