The CQC needs to be more careful with its conclusions and the wording it uses, Michael Watson says.
Last week my eye was caught by a local newspaper report about a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of a dental practice.
The practice, which is staffed by one dentist, was found to be effective, caring and responsive and was praised for being ‘very clean and clutter free’.
It demonstrated compliance with guidelines in infection control and clinical waste was segregated and disposed of in line with national guidance.
The dentist made accurate, detailed and contemporaneous notes in patient dental records and carried out a comprehensive screening of patients at check-up appointments including assessing risks associated with gum health, cancer and decay.
Comments from patients indicated that they were pleased with the treatment they received and complimented the advice given by the dentist and staff were described as polite and helpful.
The practice endeavoured to see all emergency patients on the day they contacted the practice and it was praised in the report for taking on NHS patients and offering home visits and late practice hours.
All in all the sort of practice that you and I might well be happy to attend or recommend to friends and family.
So why did the newspaper headline read: ‘Broken and out-of-date equipment – inspectors rule… dental practice is not safe’?
Because the CQC had reported that: ‘We found that this practice was not providing safe care in accordance with the relevant regulations.’
The defects found included certain pieces of emergency equipment that were out-of-date and policies and procedures had not been implemented such as health and safety, safeguarding vulnerable adults and management of significant events.
These needed attention by the practice obviously, but did they justify the description ‘not safe’?
If the CQC wants an example of a really ‘unsafe’ practice it need look no further than D’Mello, who sparked a recall of 22,000 patients by the NHS and who was struck off by the GDC after a case costing registrants £108,066.
But when the CQC visited his practice in November 2013 and in February 2014 found that the practice was meeting all its standards.
No mention there of the practice being unsafe, no critical comments in the local papers.
The CQC needs to realise that its reports are picked up by the local media, who headline phrases like ‘not providing safe care’ and downgrade the positive aspects of a practice to the end of the article.
Hopefully the patients who are satisfied with their care will continue to use the practice and recommend it to their friends and family.