CQC will check in with all practices by phone or video call starting next week

CQC inspectors will begin a process of calling practices to check in with them from next week as part of a new 'emergency support framework' it is rolling out.

(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

The regulator, which suspended routine inspections in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, said that the phone conversations were not intended as a replacement for inspections, and would not lead to a rating or report on practices.

In a blog published yesterday, CQC chief inspector of primary medical services Dr Rosie Benneyworth said that in order to support practices it was 'important for us to have the information we need to understand the challenges you are facing'.

She said that new emergency support framework would provided 'a structured framework for regular conversations our inspectors will be having with you covering safe care and treatment, staffing arrangements, protection from abuse, assurance processes, monitoring, and risk management.'

'The idea is for these conversations to be open and honest about the challenges you are facing and will enable us to support you to address these,' Dr Bennyworth added.

Supportive conversations

In its guidance to providers, the CQC said that inspectors would use information about services 'from both existing and new sources' when deciding which practices to contact for a 'supportive conversation'.

It said that services 'with a higher risk' will be contacted first, suggesting that practices where there are already concerns can expect to be called early in the process. Practices that are deemed higher risk can also expect to have more contact from their inspector, the guidance adds.

The calls are intended to be 'open and honest conversations so that we can support you to resolve any issues and make tough decisions to help you to keep people safe,' the guidance says. They will take place on Microsoft Teams, where possible, and last for no longer than an hour. Practices will be informed they are happening in advance.

Dr Benneyworth said: 'As the regulator our core purpose remains the same, to ensure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high quality care. But we recognise this needs to be delivered differently during this period, including delivering a role supporting providers so they are able to continue to deliver services.

Flexible approach

'So we are able to continue delivering our purpose during this period and support the sector where it’s needed, it’s important for us to have the information we need to understand the challenges you are facing.

She added that the approach would be 'flexible' and the CQC would adapt the framework based on practices' feedback and 'as the situation changes'.

The CQC suspended all routine inspections in March after coming under pressure from the RCGP and the BMA to halt the process.

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