The CQC told GP last August that it wanted to recruit 700 GPs as specialist advisors on its general practice inspection teams, meaning it currently has 26% fewer on board than it originally intended.
In August, two months before the revamped scheme was rolled out, 326 GPs and retired GPs had signed up to join inspection teams, under half of the CQC’s ‘ideal number’.
The latest figures show that the watchdog has recruited a further 200 GPs in the seven months since, but this is still short of its ideal target by 180.
The recruitment data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, comes shortly after senior CQC officials suggested that it may have to extend its deadline to inspect every GP practice in England by five months from April to September 2016.
Inspections once every five weeks
The original April target would have required the CQC to visit more than 100 practices a week between October 2014 and the end of March 2016. The watchdog has guaranteed that a GP inspector will be present at every inspection and, with around 500 on board, this means each inspector would have to take around one day off from the surgery every five weeks.
GP has previously revealed that the daily rate for taking part in an inspection barely covers the price of hiring a locum to cover for them.
Of the 520 GPs on board, 476 have received their inspector training so far, with the rest scheduled to complete this by 31 March 2015.
A CQC spokesman said the CQC currently had ‘a good resource’ of GP inspectors, but would continue to recruit ‘GP specialist advisors for specific skillsets and [to] ensure that the panel is refreshed as appropriate’.
The target of 700 inspectors emerged when a CQC spokeswoman told GP last August that: 'In an ideal world, we would like to recruit up to 700 GPs.'