Exclusive: CQC to speed up inspections after rating fifth of GP practices since October

The CQC has published ratings for one in five GP practices in England, but faces a significant challenge to hit its October 2016 deadline for assessing all practices.

CQC ratings: fifth of GP practices have been inspected and rated
CQC ratings: fifth of GP practices have been inspected and rated

Around 1,500 of the 7,700 practices in England have been visited, assessed and officially rated by the watchdog, almost 11 months after it launched its revamped inspection scheme last October. GPonline has recorded and mapped every GP practice rating to date.

Recent months have seen the CQC significantly ramp up the pace on inspections, but it looks likely to have to work even faster to get through the remaining 80% before October 2016.

The majority have passed with flying colours, with four out of every five practices rated ‘good’. A further 4% - equivalent to 61 practices – have been rated ‘outstanding’. On the lower end of the scale, 12% have been rated ‘requires improvement’ and 4% ‘inadequate’.

Map: CQC GP ratings

The regulator hit the 10% mark in May this year, seven months after it launched its overhauled inspection regime. Now it has reached 20% just four months later, suggesting its pace has increased.

GPonline revealed last week that GP practices have outperformed all other healthcare providers in CQC inspections so far, being considerably over twice as likely to secure a top rating as hospitals, care homes and others.

The high prevalence of top-notch ratings has caused many to voice doubts on whether the current system is completely necessary or cost-effective.

CQC inspections

The GPC has called on the CQC to reduce the regulatory load it places on practices, urging it to scrap routine inspections. Comments from chief inspector of primary care Professor Steve Field have suggested it may be looking into a ‘lighter touch’ approach.

A CQC spokeswoman said: 'As expected, we have increased the rate of inspection. We are also delighted to have recruited additional inspectors recently and this will further support the development of our inspection programme.

'We are also working with stakeholders to agree how we ensure that our approach to regulation and inspection reflects and supports the changing face of general practice and new models of care.'

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