Practices face 48-hour notice for CQC inspection

GP practices will be given 48 hours notice before inspections every two years by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that will cover up to 16 key standards, the regulator has revealed.

CQC: inspections on practices every two years
CQC: inspections on practices every two years

The CQC has also revealed that 16% of practices that have completed registration declared themselves non-compliant with the regulator's standards in some way. These practices must now produce an action plan setting out a date by which they will become compliant.

Speaking at a board meeting on Tuesday, CQC operations director Amanda Sherlock said that around 60% of the 8,123 GP practices in England have now registered with the CQC. Of that 60%, 780 (16%) declared ‘some level of non compliance’, Ms Sherlock said.

Details of how practice inspections will work were revealed in a CQC report on GP inspection pilots on 42 GP practices across England.

Practices will receive 48 hours notice before routine inspections, but no notice will be given before inspections that are the result of concerns being raised. Inspections will cover a minimum of five CQC essential standards but could cover all 16 standards in some cases, the CQC said.

Victoria Howes, design team leader for GP practice registration, said it was possible that one or two standards above the minimum five could be looked at by an inspector during their visit, but she said it would be ‘very rare’ for all 16 standards to be looked at.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said he was said he was unconcerned by 16% of registered practices declaring non-compliance. He said: ‘Most of the non-compliance will be on premises – something that practices can do nothing about.'

Dr Buckman said practices that declared non-compliance were likely to be less of a concern to the CQC than practices who declared compliance in all areas. ‘The moment you’ve declared non-compliance you’ve said "I’ve thought about this",’ he said.

Dr Buckman, who took part in CQC pilots, said 48 hours notice and inspection on a minimum of five standards was a fair approach to practice inspections.

Ms Howes said the CQC was now working on guidance to help practice staff prepare for their inspection. She said the CQC was also planning to provide further training for inspectors on primary care and establish a group of GP special advisors.

According to the report, the CQC will also address other issues that arose as part of the pilot including expectations around CRB checks for existing staff, how to inspect branch surgeries and accessing patient records. The CQC said it would also review its current guidance around looking at patient records.

Watch the video on the pilot inspections below.

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