Headlines: November 22nd, 2001

The British Medical Association wants to halt the growth in inspection because clinicians and others spend many hours preparing for visits and there is the potential for disturbing the delivery of patient care. It has called for a review of inspection mechanisms to see if they can be rationalised to avoid overlap and duplication. GPs and other health care professionals already face a multitude of visits and inspections from various bodies including the Commission for Health Improvement, medical royal colleges and the Audit Commission. The National Care Standards Commission will start to operate in April 2002 and current legislation provides for setting up Patients’ Forums.The BMA has proposed that the National Care Standards Commission, which will inspect and regulate health care provided in the independent and voluntary sectors, should be merged with the Commission for Health Improvement which already monitors the quality of patient care in the NHS. The BMA believes that the border between the NHS and the independent and voluntary sectors is becoming increasingly blurred. The Government plans to expand the involvement of the private sector in the NHS and an increasing number of NHS patients are receiving treatment over this border. The BMA argues that the inspection arrangements should better reflect the reality of the developing situation.