The watchdog has opened a consultation on its overhauled inspection regime, which will usher in a ‘more targeted, responsive and collaborative approach’ to inspecting practices.
Practices already rated good or outstanding once will be expected to show signs of improvement upon re-inspection, but this does not mean achieving the top ratings will become more difficult, it said.
The plans aim to 'simplify our assessments, but also strengthen them using what we have learned over the last three years', it added.
Map: GP CQC ratings across England
The CQC will continue to use its five key questions – asking whether practices are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led – under its overhauled regime, although some of what it asks for as part of this will change.
The proposals suggest the ‘safety’ and ‘effective’ measures will remain broadly the same, while the ‘caring’ aspect will be rejigged to look at how services provide a caring culture, focusing more on how people are supported to express their views on their healthcare and how their privacy and dignity is respected and promoted.
Service planning for populations was originally assessed under the ‘responsive’ category, but this will now come under ‘well-led’ – which will see the most changes.
The CQC is proposing to ‘strengthen’ its assessment of 'well-led', warning that problems in other areas often arise as a result of this aspect of care being poor.
The proposed changes will come into effect from October 2017 for GP practices – although hospitals will be subject to changes from April.
The CQC will hold a second consultation in spring to further pin down future changes to the way primary medical services – including GP practices – in particular are inspected.
CQC chief executive David Behan said: ‘People tell us that they want to receive care that is high quality and safe. This consultation is about evolving our existing approach using what we have learnt from our comprehensive inspections to help drive further improvement in the quality and safety of care, while adapting to changes in the way services are being provided.
‘We want to simplify our assessments, but also strengthen them using what we have learned over the last three years to make sure they continue to highlight best practice, identify concerns and where necessary, to take appropriate action whilst supporting inadequate providers to improve their quality and safety in the interests of people who use their services.’