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CQC inspectors to assess how GP practices use IT to improve access

The CQC will assess how GPs are making use of technology to ‘ensure timely access’ for patients under a new assessment framework launched for consultation today.

The new assessment protocol will cover all health specialties rather being tailored to each part of the NHS and, if approved, would come into force for GP practices and GP out-of-hours services from October 2017.

It introduces new and tweaked ‘key lines of enquiry’ (KLOEs) that inspectors will look at to determine a practice’s achievement across each quality domain: Safe, Caring, Responsive, Effective, Well-led.

They include NHS priorities such as use of technology and promoting self-care, for example:

  • 'Is technology used to support timely access? Is the technology (including telephone systems and online/digital services) easy to use and does it support people to access advice and treatment?'
  • 'How are national priorities to improve the population’s health supported? For example, smoking cessation, obesity, drug and alcohol dependency, dementia and cancer'
  • 'Are people told when they need to seek further help and advised what to do if their condition deteriorates?'

There are also new standards specifically on safe medicines management, asking: ‘Are there reliable systems, processes and practices to ensure proper and safe handling of medicines?’

This includes processes to regularly review medications, something the chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field’s own practice fell foul of recently.

CQC chief executive David Behan said:We want to simplify our assessments, but also strengthen them using what we have learned over the last three years to make sure they continue to highlight best practice, identify concerns and where necessary, to take appropriate action whilst supporting inadequate providers to improve their quality and safety in the interests of people who use their services.’

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