Independent GPs are being advised by a leading lawyer to be ready to challenge the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over clinical criticism.
His warning came after his firm noted an increase in aggressive critical findings by inspectors leading to poor ratings.
Paul Ridout, managing director of law firm Ridouts in London, told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘We have observed CQC describing medical treatment and prescribing decisions as “unsafe” or “requires improvement”.
‘Often the inspectors do not have clinical qualification and/or experience and, even where they do, that experience may not be current.
‘There can be a range of appropriate treatment options. Differences within themselves do not suggest a lack of safety. Even an outlier may be completely acceptable in the particular patient presentation.’
He warned that the CQC rarely discussed before coming to judgement and relied heavily on its reading of notes, which did not give a complete picture.
Mr Ridout added: ‘A finding of unsafe practice can have very serious and far-reaching implications beyond the CQC report itself.
‘Independent practitioners are more vulnerable than those with NHS or employer support. Always take the time and effort to justify your clinical decisions.
‘Remember that there are only ten working days to challenge from receipt of the draft report. Always ensure that your clinical notes are detailed and support your decision-making.’