Exclusive: CQC to accelerate GP inspection regime as 2015/16 targets slip

The CQC has rated its own progress on GP inspections 'inadequate' after failing to hit monthly targets throughout the 2015/16 financial year, and will be forced to speed up ratings over the coming year.

Earlier this year the CQC extended its deadline for rating all GP practices by six months, putting back the target to 31 March 2017.

The CQC says it is on track to meet this revised deadline, but has consistently struggled to meet monthly inspection targets during 2015/16.

Board papers published this month show that despite almost doubling the rate of primary care inspections over the first 10 months of 2015/16, the watchdog has fallen increasingly behind its target levels.

In its own monthly performance document, the CQC rated its performance as ‘inadequate’ for being over 10% below its target for primary care inspections. For January, the CQC inspected 35% fewer primary care organisations than its target level.

A cumulative shortfall suggests it should have inspected over 1,100 more primary medical services – the majority of which are GP practices – than it has at the current time.

Map: CQC GP ratings

When the current inspection regime was launched 18 months ago in October 2014, the watchdog aimed to have completed inspections by the end of March 2016.

GPonline assessment of ratings published by the watchdog show that it has so far managed to get through around two fifths (39%) of practices in England. With 12 months left to go to the renewed deadline, the bulk of practices are still awaiting inspection.

In recent months the CQC has released around 250 GP inspection reports per month. It must now bump this up to 400 – a 60% increase – to hit the target of rating them all by next March. Just under 400 primary medical services were inspected in January, suggesting this could be achievable.

The watchdog said it had improved the rate at which it published CQC reports for primary medical services, which are now released an average of 59 days after inspection.

Of the over 3,000 practices rated, 85% have achieved ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ scores, with just 11% ‘requires improvement’ and 4% ‘inadequate’.

Almost 100 lower-performing practices among these have been rated twice, with the majority of these going on to improve their scores.

A CQC spokeswoman said: ‘At the CQC board meeting in January, a commitment was made to completing the comprehensive inspection baseline programme in all sectors before the 31 March 2017 deadline. Inspection trajectories show that we are on track to achieve this.’

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