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How does the CQC's new approach to inspection affect practices?

The CQC now conducts monthly online checks on GP practices as part of its new inspection regime.

The CQC has changed the way it monitors practices. From July this year, the CQC started a monthly review of the information it holds on practices. 

The regulator says that this will allow it to prioritise its activity and means practices and the public know that the CQC has not found any evidence that warrants a re-assessment. The date the CQC runs this report is published on the CQC website under the latest physical inspection report of each practice. 

After the CWC has assessed this information practices will receive an email letting them know that the review has taken place.

When will inspectors visit practices?

The CQC will still continue to visit practices where there are concerns. It says: 'We’ll visit when there’s a clear need to do so. For example, this could be when we’re responding to risk, where we only have limited data or we need specific information, where we need to speak to people using the service face-to-face, or to ensure that our view of quality is reliable.'

On the one hand this relieves the pressure of a physical inspection, which can be stressful and a lot of work to prepare for. On the other hand the regular remote monitoring means that practices should ensure that they are meeting public health targets such as childhood immunisation and smear rates as these are the types of data that the CQC will use in its monthly remote monitoring exercise.

Despite the fact that the CQC may not be visiting imminently, it is still best practice to ensure that the domains that the CQC monitor are up to date and organised, which will ensure that you are meeting best practice and that you are fully prepared if you are visited.

What data does the CQC use?

To assess GP practices the CQC uses the following data:

  • The GP Patient Survey
  • QOF data
  • Cervical screening programme statistics
  • NHS Business Services Authority data on prescribing
  • Data on cancer services
  • Data on coverage achieved by the childhood immunisation programme

The CQC says it will also consider the current rating, any ongoing or planned regulatory activities, statutory notifications (such as safeguarding, whistleblowing and incident reports), and feedback from patients, including any information from local Healthwatch groups.

How is this assessment recorded?

The CQC says that it will publish a statement on its website if a review indicates that a service may be lower risk. This will apply to practices rated either good or outstanding, meeting all regulations, not subject to any regulartory activity and showing no evidence that the CQC needs to reassess the rating.

The statements will appear on the 'reports' tab for each practice on the CQC website. Practices will also receive an email to confirm when a public statement is published or refreshed.

If a review indicates a practice may be of higher rise it will make additional checks, including gathering evidence of people's experiences of care and contacting the practice.

If a service is deemed to be very high risk an inspection will be carried out.

When will the CQC call the practice?

CQC inspectors may contact the practice and arrange a phone call if it feels it needs more details after it has assessed the information it holds on your practice. The call will usually be via Microsoft Teams.

This is not an inspection and will not result in a change in rating. The CQC no longer undertakes annual phone calls with all practices.

The inspector on the call will be looking for evidence to provide assurance of the quality of the service the practice provides. The call will focus on the key lines of enquiry and the inspector may ask for evidence about specific issues.

Useful information

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