HSJ’s round-up of Wednesday’s must read stories

Mark your own work

If you ask a GP to name the top five things that make their job frustrating, the burden of the Care Quality Commission’s inspection and regulatory regime are likely to come high on the list.

Well, HSJ has learned this week that GPs could face fewer inspections in future under a proposal being considered for the sector’s support package to be launched next week.

Several sources with knowledge of the discussions for the GP “roadmap” between NHS England, the Department of Health and other bodies have said the possibility of “self-assessment” is being seriously considered as part of the long promised support package.

Under the changes, after all GP practices have been inspected once by the CQC they could then self-assess on a number of performance measures.

One source knowledgeable of the changes being discussed told HSJ: “I have heard the term ‘self-assessment’ coming in [alongside] this ‘light touch’ idea,” in reference to the proposed changes to CQC inspection.

Another source said national leaders are giving serious consideration to moving to a more “light touch” approach after the first round of inspections is complete, returning only to inspect practices where needed.

The CQC has previously proposed moving to a more risk based regulatory regime. In October it set out a number of options for health and care regulation from 2016 to 2021.

These included reducing the frequency of inspections for high performing services and getting providers to self-assess their quality.

The roadmap, which will be announced by NHS England, has been described by its chief executive Simon Stevens as “substantial and wide ranging”.

The package has been long awaited, with senior sources telling HSJ over the last few months that its release was originally mooted for February.

It is expected to include funding and other support for GPs and primary care, with changes being finalised on workforce, workload and service redesign issues.

Difficult switch

The transfer of patient transport services in Sussex from South East Coast Ambulance Service to the company Coperforma has not been the smoothest.

Since 1 April, the firm has run the contact centre while the transport has been delivered by a number of subcontractors. In February, unions were worried that the arrangements for transferring staff may not be completed in time, though this appears to have finished.

Less than a week after the new providers took over, local MP Maria Caulfield warned that she would raise issues with ministers if problems were not resolved quickly. She said she was contacted by many concerned patients and relatives, but was assured by High Weald Lewes Havens CCG that action was being taken to resolve the problems – which included complaints about patients being picked up late for hospital appointments, the contact centre being unable to answer calls, and trusts having to arrange taxis to get patients home if their treatment runs into the evening.

Unions criticised the “rushed and disjointed approach” to the changeover.

Coperforma chief executive Michael Clayton apologised for the “unacceptable level of service” in the first few days of operation. The company said it was only given information about some bookings the night before the service went live.

The latest development is that HSJ has learned the company may have been the only bidder for the £12m a year contract, despite 19 organisations originally expressing an interest.