Under the new system, practices that are rated good or outstanding will only be subject to a full inspection once every five years. However they will now be required to undergo a formal annual regulatory review.
As part of this review inspectors will look at centrally collected data, including QOF and GP patient survey results, information from CCGs or local Healthwatch groups and information provided by the practice in a structured, hour-long phone conversation. The CQC said that the review would help it prioritise inspections where information suggested that the quality of care at a practice had changed since its last inspection.
CQC phone calls
Practices will be given four weeks' notice of the phone call and will be able to arrange for this to happen at a convenient time. During the call CQC inspectors will ask a series of set questions about whether there have been any changes in policies and procedures or in how the practice provides services, for example a change in skill-mix or any improvements following patient feedback.
If after the phone call and assessing other data the CQC feels that the quality of care in a practice has improved or deteriorated since the last rating it may decide to inspect or ask the practice for further information. The annual review will not change a practice’s rating, which can only be altered following an inspection, the CQC said.
Because of the changes practices rated good or outstanding will no longer be subject to pre-inspection provider information requests from the CQC ahead of an inspection.
Practices rated inadequate will continue to be inspected and rated every six months and those that ‘require improvement’ every 12 months. Therefore the annual regulatory review will not apply to these practices and they will still be required to complete pre-inspection provider information requests.
The CQC said the new system would enable it to take a ‘proportionate approach’ to inspection and focus its resources where risk is greatest to patients.
CQC deputy chief inspector of general practice Ruth Rankine, said: ‘As laid out in our strategy and recent consultations, CQC is committed to an intelligence-led approach to regulation and working with others to minimise the impact that regulation has on providers.
‘The annual regulatory review for practices rated good or outstanding will enable us to take a proportionate approach – focusing our resources where risk is greatest while supporting practices to improve and ensuring patients have access to the high-quality care they deserve.
‘We have discussed this with the BMA and RCGP who are supportive of this approach and we are grateful to those practices who helped us test the review process and provided positive feedback.’