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Ethnic minority-led GP practices “not operating on level playing field”

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found that ethnic minority-led GP practices are “not operating on level playing field”.

In February 2021, the CQC began to ‘examine concerns raised by some GPs’ that ‘ethnic minority-led GP practices were more likely to have a poorer experience or outcomes from regulation than non ethnic minority-led practices’.

Around a year later, the body has now published the findings of its work in a new report. The CQC notes that ‘limited data within the health and care system’ meant that it was ‘not possible to establish any relationship between ethnicity of practice leadership and ratings’.

However, they were able to identify ‘contextual factors’ which could ‘disproportionately affect ethnic minority-led practices’. These included that ethnic minority-led practices were more likely to ‘care for populations with higher levels of socio-economic deprivation and poorer health’ and also more likely to be ‘single-handed’, without support from other partners.

The potential impacts of these factors were noted as including: affecting the ability to achieve some national targets used in assessments; challenges around recruitment and funding, and resourcing and capacity.

CQC also says that ‘GPs from ethnic minority backgrounds who contributed to this report also cited a lack of leadership support from external bodies’. The regulator aims to take such insights on board, including wider learnings from minority ethnic GPs, alongside those from inspection colleagues, when developing its approach to assessing Integrated Care Systems.

In response to its findings, the body is also set to review and strengthen how it ‘considers the context in which a GP practice works when it makes assessments about quality and ratings’.

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at CQC said: “As the first port of call and foundation of most people’s health care, a huge expectation is placed on every practice team. However, what this report finds is that ethnic minority-led GP practices are often not operating on a level playing field in terms of where they work, and the support available to them.

“While the system still has work to do around robust, meaningful data collection and ethnicity, we need to respond to what we do know. It is clear from the experience of the GPs who spoke to us that the challenges they face can be magnified by factors which are outside of their control and make it harder to evidence the quality of care that they offer.”

Read the full report here, to find out more about the research, findings and methodology.