Condition of premises and infection control key stumbling blocks as GPs told to improve services in order to prevent closure
Hundreds of GP practices across the UK will have to spent significant sums of money upgrading premises in order to comply with Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards and avoid registration problems that could result in closure.
The CQC has revealed that 20% of GP practices that have applied to be registered - 1,545 primary care providers - declared non-compliance with at least one of the CQC’s 16 essential standards. The condition of premises and infection control were the most problematic areas, with 810 declaring non-compliance on premises and 863 for infection control.
It is often much more cost effective for surgeries to split occupational costs utility bills, which allows them to invest in additional staff and therefore provide a better level of care to patients
This means practices will have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to ensure they comply with CQC registration standards, which are necessary for services to remain operational. Primary care registration came into effect on 1 April, with the CQC issuing seven closure notices based on feedback at that time. Those that passed the registration stage, but identified areas in need of improvement, will now have to show they have taken action.
The figures come as the CQC releases its strategy and purpose for the next three years. The document confirms that inspectors will be judging future services on five key areas, with inspectors looking for practices that are safe, effective, caring, well led and responsive to people’s needs. They will also be looking at both positive and negative comments on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Key issues for practices include the need to improve access arrangements and enhance infection control measures.
But while GPs have been left concerned by the implications of non-compliance, market experts say they are not surprised by the CQC’s findings.
Andrew Darke, managing director property at primary care developer and investor, Assura Group, told BBH: “The clinical commissioning groups that replaced PCTs at the start of April this year will find themselves under extreme pressure to ensure that their surgeries reach compliance levels as they run the risk of closure. If practices do start to close, there will be an enormous burden placed on other GPs in the vicinity who will be forced to take on additional patients.
The clinical commissioning groups that replaced PCTs at the start of April this year will find themselves under extreme pressure to ensure that their surgeries reach compliance levels as they run the risk of closure
“We were not surprised that so many surgeries may not be compliant. Numerous GPs are practicing out of premises that are several years old, or were never destined for medical use. Where the property is listed or in a heavily built-up area, it is almost impossible to adapt or refurbish the building to meet the criteria set by the CQC.”
For the practices affected, the only option, he said, was to develop new premises, but this may mean linking with neighbouring services in order to secure the necessary funding.
He added: “As public sector spending has been slashed, we are seeing more GP surgeries coming together to build and relocate to shared premises. It is often much more cost effective for surgeries to split occupational costs utility bills, which allows them to invest in additional staff and therefore provide a better level of care to patients. The new buildings are also totally compliant in regard to disabled access and infection control, which is where most surgeries are currently failing.