London (AFP) - GP surgeries that fail to provide adequate care could be shut down under tough new measures to boost the quality of patient services, health regulators warned on Thursday.
Poorly rated practices face the risk of being be put under special measures and will be closed if they do not improve, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.
Each surgery will undergo an Ofsted-style assessment in which they will be rated outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.
Practices given the lowest rating -- inadequate -- will be given six months to improve.
Failure to move out of the bottom rating would result in special measures and the practice being given a further six months.
If after that period there was no sign of progress, the practice could have its registration with the health regulator cancelled or its contract terminated by NHS England.
Those with extremely serious problems would be placed immediately in special measures, CQC added.
The new system will be rolled out in October with inspectors assessing 8,300 surgeries in England.
CQC's chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field said that "most GP practices provide good care," but those providing poor care cannot be allowed to continue.
"I want to do all I can to drive up standards in those that are not providing the services people deserve. We need to have a clear framework and a process to respond to those GP practices that are providing inadequate care to ensure that they can't continue to provide inadequate care indefinitely.
"Special measures will firstly promote improvement, but where practices do not improve, working with NHS England we will call time on poor care."