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CQC: One In Six GP Surgeries Has Appointment Booking Issues

CQC Publishes Inspection Results Of 336 GP Practices


Patients trying to book appointments to see their GP at one in six doctors' surgeries throughout the UK experience difficulties in doing so, it has been revealed.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) investigated 336 practices to check standards there, finding that significant numbers of surgeries have appointment booking issues that mean the health of patients is potentially put at risk while they are waiting to see a doctor.

These inspections were carried out between April and September this year as part of a pilot for a new regime introduced in October, which will see standards at almost 8,000 GP practices looked at before March 2016.

Problems relating to the booking of appointments were not the only concerns raised by the CQC, as the healthcare regulator also found that some surgeries had no effective system in place for reporting incidents, meaning further safety issues could arise.

In addition, a number of these practices did not follow a culture that involved learning from such mistakes, once again presenting health and safety concerns.

However, good standards were identified at most of the surgeries inspected by the CQC, showing that doctors were coping well, despite increasing demand from patients. Figures show around 340 million consultations are carried out each year, indicating a rise of 40 million from just over five years ago. Therefore, this means an extra 120,000 patients are now seeing their GP each day.

Chief inspector of GPs at the CQC Professor Steve Field commented: "We believe that the vast majority of GP surgeries in England are providing good care for their patients, but unfortunately the vast majority are being let down by a small minority and unfortunately, we have seen some examples in our pilot phase of some really poor care."

He added that he wants to make sure every patient has access to safe, quality care, wherever and whenever they may need it.

Expert Opinion
Patient care should always be a top priority for medical professionals. At a local level this means ensuring patients have access to GPs when they require care and treatment. Therefore, it is extremely troubling to see that the CQC has found so many surgeries are making errors when it comes to booking appointments.

“This is simply not good enough and could have serious consequences for patients as their conditions could worsen. It could also force some patients to visit their hospital for treatment after being unable to see their GP, adding further pressure to overstretched accident and emergency departments.

“It is crucial these surgeries identified as lacking in their appointment procedures take the report into consideration and begin to look at those identified by the CQC as providing good standards of care to patients across the board.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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