CQC to continue inspecting practices despite coronavirus outbreak

The CQC has said it will continue to inspect GP practices despite the coronavirus outbreak, but that this position would be reviewed on an 'ongoing basis'.

This week the government set out its 'battle plan' for tackling the spread of Covid-19, which could result in non-urgent NHS treatment being cancelled and more patients discharged early from hospital and treated at home in the event of widespread infection.

However the CQC has said that most of its inspections will 'continue as planned in the short-term'.

In an email to all registered health and care providers, the regulator said: 'We will still be carrying out inspections, but inspection managers will be reviewing inspection plans on an ongoing basis to make sure our activity is aligned with the very latest position.

'We will keep the position under review and may decide to postpone an inspection, perhaps with relatively short notice. We will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to how and when we regulate as and when this situation develops and we commit to continuing conversations with providers and their representative organisations.'

The CQC said that during the Covid-19 outbreak it would look to reduce what practices needed to do to prepare for an inspection. Inspectors may also spend less time that usual conducting the inspection within the practice, it added.

Practice closures

The decision comes despite the fact that more than two dozen practices across the UK have been forced to close temporarily within the past two or three weeks for emergency cleaning after contact with patients with suspected coronavirus infection.

GPonline revealed yesterday that a 20,000-patient practice in Devon had been forced to close its two surgery sites for two weeks as a result of coronavirus. It is thought to be the first practice to shut for an extended period due to the outbreak.

GPs have also raised concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), which they say could put patients and staff at risk.

Meanwhile, last week the BMA warned that if the impact of coronavirus on general practice continued to rise, and doctors and other staff were required to self isolate, suspension of the QOF and online appointment booking could be necessary to help practices cope.

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