GPs demand one month's notice for CQC inspection

GP practices need at least one month's notice before an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Family Doctor Association has said.

A poll of 100 English GP practices published today by the Family Doctor Association found that 67% of practices said they required one month’s notice of a CQC inspection. A further 12% said they needed two month’s notice, 9% three month’s and 12% three to six month’s notice.

GP practices in England must be registered with the CQC by 1 April 2013 and the CQC has said that each practice will be inspected at least once every two years. The CQC has the right to visit unannounced but it said the vast majority of practices will get 24 to 48 hours' notice.

Responses to the question of notice period practices need for CQC inspections n = 50

A spokeswoman for the Family Doctor Association said: ‘The CQC forgets that general practice is not like the hospital or nursing home sectors that they regulate.

'What happens if they demand to inspect a single handed practice and the doctor has just left for a holiday? What effect will it have on patients who have pre-booked a doctor appointment if at very short notice the CQC demands that the registered manager, usually a GP, is available for them?

She added: 'The Family Doctor Association demands that a minimum notice period of one month is given for routine inspections with the right to negotiate a date. The association fully accepts that inspections where there is a reasonable cause for concern should be possible without notice.’

Last week, the CQC said that 5,430 GP practices have set up online accounts to start the registration process. This represents half of those the regulator invited to begin registration earlier this month. The CQC said that between 200 and 300 GPs were setting up online accounts every day.

Registration is due to take place in four one-month windows from September to December. Practices that have set up their accounts can choose the window in which they wish to submit the data required for registration.

The CQC has previously said that unannounced visits would only be used when the CQC has been alerted to a potential problem with a practice.

Commenting on the survey a spokesperson for the CQC said: 'The length of notice given to GP practices is an area that the Care Quality Commission is testing as part of its inspection pilot. Most other services registered with CQC receive no notice period when we carry out an inspection. To ensure our inspections do not impact on patient care during inspections a variety of notice periods are being tested, from no notice up to a 10 day notice period.

'The Family Doctors Association are represented on our advisory group for GP registration where their views where fed into what should be tested as part of the inspection pilot. This includes what notice period we should test.'

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