Staff in GP jobs will be subject to a more comprehensive and demanding system of evaluation and inspection following the introduction of a new system of special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
To be introduced in October 2014, the initiative will see the regulator begin to rate 8,000 NHS GP practices and sorting them into one of four categories - outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.
Those that receive an inadequate rating on one or more aspects of their service will be given six months to improve, after which they will be put into special measures if they are not able to raise standards sufficiently.
If after a maximum of a further six months they are still found to be inadequate, they could face having their registration with the CQC cancelled or their contract terminated by NHS England.
This comes after the regulator recently piloted a new way of inspecting GP practices via specialist inspection teams that included a GP specialist advisor. These assessments confirmed that most practices are providing high-quality care, but that there are a small number with persistent problems - thus prompting the proposed introduction of the new system.
The CQC will be working closely with NHS England, the General Medical Council, the Royal College of GPs and other bodies to develop and pilot this new approach, the implementation of which will bring general practice in line with other sectors overseen by the CQC.
Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice, said: "I want to do all I can to drive up standards in those that are not providing the services people deserve."
Mike Bewick, deputy medical director for NHS England, welcomed this new system of inspections, saying: "NHS England's vision is to see general practice play an even stronger role in the heart of local communities, offering more joined-up, high-quality services. As part of this, we want to help GPs to provide ever higher standards of care to patients."
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