Advice on preparing for a CQC inspection

The key to ensuring your CQC inspection goes smoothly is thorough preparation, writes Fionnuala O'Donnell.

A CQC inspection can be a daunting experience for any practice. To ensure the visit goes well practices need to set aside some time to prepare for what will actually happen on the day. Below are some things to consider.

Key lines of enquiry

The CQC released updated key lines of enquiry (KLOEs) and 'prompts' (the questions that feed into the key lines) in November 2017. CQC inspectors use these questions to assess all providers. For each question the CQC has set out what 'outstanding', 'good', 'requires improvement' and 'inadequate' looks like and will use this information to rate your practice.

You can findthe KLOEs, along with the characteristics of each rating for each question here (this version highlights what has changed compared with the 2015 version):

These (and in particular the characteristics of each rating) should be the basis of how you prepare for your inspection.

Who needs to be at the inspection? 

Ideally the senior partner, the registered manager (who may be senior partner), the practice manager, the lead nurse and the infection control lead as a minimum. However, you want as many team members there as possible who can talk through the ethos of the practice what the practice does and how it does it.

More CQC coverage and advice
Analysis: Deprivation linked to lower CQC scores
Map: CQC ratings for every GP practice in England
How CQC inspections will change from 2018

Prepare your staff

A huge part of impressing the inspectors will be thoroughly prepared staff. Explain to staff what the CQC is, why the inspection is important and what sort of questions they may get asked. Practice questioning staff ahead of time - this will help them to feel more confident on the day and prepared for what they may be asked.

Prepare your patients

Your patients are your biggest asset and the inspectors will want to talk to patients to get their views. Ask your PPG if any member would be happy to attend on the day of the inspection. Ask them for their views on the KLOEs and what they feel are the practice’s strengths and weaknesses.

Plan the day in advance

Make a timetable for the day. The inspectors ask for a 30-minute presentation to introduce the practice. The BMA has produced guidelines for what to include in this presentation. The BMA also suggests preparing a welcome pack, which has names and roles of key staff, practice leaflet and any other information you think might be useful. If there are any specific achievements or innovative services that you want to showcase to the inspectors, make sure you highlight these in your presentation.

Gather your evidence

There is a huge amount of paperwork and documentation that the CQC may ask to see during an inspection, including policies, HR records, patient information and health and safety assessments, to name just a few. It is very likely the CQC will want evidence that safeguarding, integrated working, significant events and monitoring vulnerable patients are regularly discussed. Make sure you have minutes of meetings and examples of where you can highlight these issues being talked about within the practice and any actions taken as a result of this.

  • There is more advice on all of these issues on our sister site Medeconomics, see below.

Fionnuala O'Donnell is a practice manager in Ealing, West London, and a CCG board member

More on Medeconomics
This article is an extract from the Medeconomics series ‘Preparing for a CQC Inspection’, which also includes:
- Checklist of policies to check ahead of an inspection
- Checklist of paperwork to prepare
- Practice walkthrough checklist
- Advice on preparing your staff for an inspection 
- Ensuring your HR records are up to scratch
Click here for more details

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