CQC warns of 'high risks' associated with inspection overhaul plans

The CQC has acknowledged that there is a 'high risk' its plans for a revamped inspection regime will prove to be poorly designed and difficult to run, official documents suggest.

CQC inspection: overhaul brings risk
CQC inspection: overhaul brings risk

CQC doubts about how effective its proposed changes to the inspection regime will be emerged in an operational risk report that shows the watchdog identified eight ‘high risks’ associated with the overhaul.

Most of these have been downgraded to ‘medium’ risks following ‘mitigating actions’ taken by the CQC – but the risk that its ‘methodologies, infrastructure, systems and processes are not well designed and are difficult to operate’ remains ‘high’ despite these efforts.

The report, last updated in June but published on the CQC website last month, also included risks that the new inspection processes ‘do not regulate effectively and make timely, legal decisions’ and that they ‘are not able to measure our costs and demonstrate better efficiency and value for money to providers’.

A CQC spokesman said the watchdog had labelled these as ‘high risk’ because it had only just announced the new strategy a month before the risk scores were drawn up, and many of the finer points of how the system would work had yet to be defined.

Map: CQC GP ratings across England

The proposed five-year strategy will see its inspection processes overhauled and data playing a larger role in assessing practices. Inspections will become less frequent for practices that can demonstrate ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ care.

The CQC has previously criticised its current system as well, with chief executive David Behan warning it could not continue with the ‘unacceptable’ way it has been working to date.

The CQC spokesman said: ‘These [risks] were flagged as "high" as it covered the period of April to June –quarter one. We only published the strategy in May and so, at that point, a lot of the mechanics around the implementation of our strategy had not been put in place. Since then, things have obviously progressed a great deal.

‘The risk post-mitigation is what is most important as it covers what we are doing in response to them. As an organisation, we take a proactive and open and transparent approach to managing risk and we continue to work to bring the levels of these and other risks down, and we regularly review them.’

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