Don't overhaul CQC - doctors' leader

BMA leader Dr Mark Porter spoke to the BBC about the problems doctors are facing

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Ministers should resist the temptation to overhaul England's healthcare regulator, according to the leader of the British Medical Association.

Dr Mark Porter said changes already made to the Care Quality Commission should be allowed to bed in.

This is despite the crisis engulfing the organisation.

Last week, it was revealed the regulator may have tried to cover-up its handling of the deaths of babies at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria.

Under pressure

Dr Porter also spoke out about the problems doctors are facing in trying to make a difference in the new NHS.

His comments come as doctors across the UK are gathering in Edinburgh for the annual conference of the BMA.

One of the key themes of the conference is the pressure the NHS is under.

Dr Porter said a combination of cuts, red tape and relentless pressure meant they were often finding it "impossible" to make improvements.

This is despite the introduction of government reforms in April that give doctors more power to shape the health service in England.

The BMA received feedback from 1,000 medics about the current conditions.

Nine in 10 complained they had faced obstacles when trying to make improvements.

Half cited a lack of time as a barrier, 39% financial constraints and a third too much bureaucracy.

Mr Porter said: "It is a grave cause for concern.

"The government wants to give doctors more control so they can work effectively for their patients, yet they often find this impossible."

'Knee jerk' reaction

But Dr Porter also used the start of the conference to urge caution over the CQC.

A report by consultants Grant Thornton accused the regulator of last year burying a critical internal report into its handling of Furness General Hospital.

The hospital is now subject to a police investigation over alleged failings in care.

Since then a new management team has been brought in and a new chief inspector of hospitals appointed.

Dr Porter said: "I think it is absolutely not the time to decide we need to reorganise it all from top to bottom again.

"We should actually remember that sometimes you shouldn't react in a knee jerk way but allow changes that are under way to bed in."

Addressing the concerns about the current working environment for doctors, health minister Dr Dan Poulter said he accepted that the health service was facing challenges.

But he praised the work doctors were doing.

"Doctors are working extremely hard and continue to provide a high quality of care in the face of rising healthcare demands. It is thanks to this hard work that the NHS is performing well."

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