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GPs to be given two weeks' notice before a CQC inspection

Exclusive GP practices will be given two weeks’ notice - instead of 48 hours - before a CQC inspection under major changes to the way visits are carried out from April, Pulse has learned.

Chief inspector of primary care Professor Steve Field said that the change heralds a ‘new approach’ in the way the CQC works with GP practices, aiming to support them to raise standards.

The current 48-hour notice period proved controversial when it was announced in November 2012, with the CQC reasoning that it prevented practices from ‘overpreparing’, leading to practices having to hire extra staff so they are sufficiently prepared.

However, the regulator has also reserved the right for unannounced inspections to practices identified as being at-risk.

Professor Field outlined the new inspection regime earlier this year, including greater use of specialist inspectors, questions on how compassionate the care provided is and Ofsted-style ratings, which will begin to be published from October.

The CQC will announce this week the first tranche of 12 CCG areas where practices will be inspected and Pulse has also learnt that the controversial policy of 48-hours’ notice currently given to practices will be ditched in favour of giving two day’s notice.

A CQC statement said: ‘This week the CQC will be sending out letters to 12 CCG areas chosen to form part of the first wave of new GP inspections, they have been chosen at random for a representative geographical spread.

‘CCGs are being given at least four weeks advance notice that their area has been selected and GP practices in those areas will have at least two weeks’ notice of an inspection as opposed to the previous 48 hours, CQC reserve the right however to inspect unannounced at any time where a practice is identified as a risk. These inspections will only include practices that have not yet been visited by the CQC.’

Professor Field said: ‘This first wave of the new style inspection heralds a new approach that’s not about catching people out but about working with and supporting general medical practice. We will be learning on these inspections and genuinely want feedback on our approach which will start in earnest in October when we will also begin to rate practices.’

Dr John Hughes, the GPC member for Manchester, Salford, Trafford and Stockport, said that the longer notice would give practices more time to prepare.

He said: ‘It is slightly helpful in that it gives practices time to prepare well with the interruption of a major visit, and they can get locum cover for surgeries. But it doesn’t address the fundamental problem in that there is still a total lack of clarity about what standards and criteria the inspectors are using.’

Readers' comments (19)

  • Tom Caldwell

    Whilst the change of approach is clearly welcomed I think there is much trust to be regained in this system after the way that the initial inspections were reported. I think there was much feeling that the handling of the release of information for the initial inspections was poorly done. I hope this restores some of the trust that was clearly lost.

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  • Does Steve really believe he can 'rate' practices. not just apples vs pears but the whole fruit bowl

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  • Fantastic news for GPs. With 14 days notice to clean up your act, you really have to be a moron to fail an inspection. This is plenty of time to fix everything you didn't do all year.
    If the CQC extended this principle to all other providers, no one will ever fail an inspection, ergo, there is no need for an inspection, and so we don't really need the CQC at all ..... Hmmmm.

    So, by way of deduction my dear Watson, if this is a pointless exercise, then why are we paying a fee to the CQC?

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  • >why are we paying a fee to the CQC

    So that the govt could claw back nearly all of the money from the organisational QOF domain?

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  • Dec 2013: 'From January “no-notice inspections” will be introduced for schools with previous poor ratings for behaviour or when Ofsted receives intelligence that discipline standards have dropped.

    The move is designed to stop schools over-preparing for inspections. '

    GPs being let off the hook while schools are not - why? What's the difference?

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  • Dear Above, because when CQC comes-a-calling the entire practice could be brought to a standstill. For an average practice that could be 40 appointments cancelled on the day. To whose benefit is that?

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  • 40 appointments cancelled on the day for an average practice. Wow
    So glad I'm above average - not! Do you mean 40 per GP?

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  • If we don't get our inspection before April, can we have our money back?

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  • If you have to cancel 40 appointments for a CQC inspection, you are clearly non-compliant and should be closing the doors. This is not how a CQC inspection is carried out

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  • The CQC made a statement earlier that a large number of practices fail to meet compliance standards.
    Based on THEIR findings, a surprise visit will clearly show politically unacceptable results.

    So the obvious solution is to do what they did to schooling standards, lower the bar so no one fails. Now everyone gets an A+ ... except for the poor dentists, and care homes, and others ..... who cares, I'm all right Jack

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