GPs condemn 'inappropriate' decision to restart CQC inspections

CQC plans to restart routine inspection of GP services over summer and autumn are 'inappropriate', GP leaders have warned.

The watchdog has confirmed that inspectors are scheduling checks on 'higher-risk' services over the summer, and that a 'managed return' to inspection of lower-risk services is planned over the autumn.

Routine CQC inspections have been on hold since 16 March as the NHS diverted its full attention to tackling the emerging COVID-19 pandemic.

Just three inspections have been carried out since that date in primary care, the watchdog says - all in response to concerns raised by staff or members of the public.

CQC inspection

But GP leaders have criticised the timing of the decision to restart inspections, and urged the watchdog to use the pause during the pandemic as an opportunity to overhaul its processes to ease the burden of inspection on general practice.

BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'Over the last few months GP practices have risen to the challenge of completely reorganising the way they work so that they can safely and confidently continue to provide care to their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

'They have done this without many of the regulatory burdens forced upon them previously – allowing them the space to innovate and dedicate more time to patients.

'GPC has long-called for an overhaul of inspection processes, and now is the precise time for that as we all reflect on learning from this crisis.

GP workload

'As practices gear up for the surge in demand caused by a huge backlog of non-Covid patients and care – which some practices are already experiencing – it is completely inappropriate to announce a general return to inspections right now.'

Around 95% of GP practices are rated good or outstanding by the CQC - a far higher proportion than among other health and care providers.

GPs have repeatedly raised concerns over the impact of CQC inspections on practice workload and called for a reduction in checks and more notice.

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