THE Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently completed inspecting all our local GP practices in Eastern Cheshire.
The CQC is responsible for independently assessing the quality and safety of all health providers.
It talks to staff and patients, inspects premises and policies and examines every aspect of how a practice operates, from waste disposal to medication review.
I am delighted and proud to say that every single practice in our area has been rated as Good or Outstanding, with none needing improvement or being of concern.
This is a remarkable feat, as general practice has never been under such demand or been needed so much.
Over 90 per cent of all NHS contacts are with our general practices, yet it receives less than eight per cent of the total NHS budget.
While waits for hospital treatment can sometimes be several months, our practices offer same day appointments and phone advice for urgent issues, as well as appointments up to six weeks in advance.
They visit care homes on a weekly basis and statistics show that, through their hard work, the number of people ending up in hospital is far lower than average due to the proactive and responsive care GPs provide.
Most of our GPs work 12-hour days and their staff are on the front line of the NHS, facing the daily demands of frightened, concerned patients requesting help and support, often in a crisis.
Our Clinical Commissioning Group continues to invest in general practice to ensure we maintain this level of access and service.
But as we get older, and have more needs, it is inevitable that general practice will change.
GPs are planning on joining forces to help lead community-based teams of multiple professionals and are likely to collaborate in order to meet need across their towns and villages.
When politicians and the public want to protect the NHS, it is often hospitals we think of first.
But it is GPs that form the backbone of this national institution and it is comforting to know that whoever you are registered with in Eastern Cheshire, the CQC has verified the safety and quality of local practices.
Further information on the inspection of your local practice can be found at www.cqc.org.uk