The CQC is planning to carry out remote checks on each GP practice every month to assess its risk to patients, and publish an update on its website if the practice is deemed as a low risk, starting from next month.
In a draft document detailing the plans, seen by Pulse, the CQC said it is ‘moving on’ from its transitional monitoring approach – that was brought in during the Covid pandemic – to a new system that includes a ‘monthly check of the information and data’ it holds on GP practices.
The new monitoring approach has been piloted in the Midlands and East of England since 15 June, but will extend to the rest of the country from July.
The virtual monthly checks will see the CQC considering information it holds on individual practices, including previous inspection reports and ratings, ‘monitoring information’ collected through its usual data sources and the ‘inspector’s knowledge of your service’, the document said.
If the CQC considers a practice to be presenting a ‘higher risk’ to patients, it will go on to make ‘additional checks’, including ‘gathering people’s experience of care and contacting the provider’, but if it deems a site to be ‘very high risk’, it will carry out an inspection.
For ‘low risk’ GP practices, the regulator will publish a statement on its website showing that it ‘has not found any evidence that tells us we need to re-assess the rating or quality of care at that service at that time’. This includes services rated good or outstanding and those that meet all the regulations.
The CQC said it ‘may’ call practices either online or by telephone after reviewing their information, which could take ‘an hour or two’, but emphasised that this is ‘not an inspection’.
The regulator will also consider the online feedback left by patients about a service and information from other agencies, including Healthwatch and local authorities, it said.
The CQC document said: ‘From June 2021 we’re introducing a new monthly check of the information and data we have on most of the services we regulate. To start with, this will not include primary care dental services or NHS trusts.
‘This approach will help us to prioritise our activity [and] involves publishing a statement on our website for low risk services. This will let providers and the public know that we have not found any evidence that tells us we need to re-assess the rating or quality of care at that service at that time.’
A statement by the CQC chief inspectors, published on 14 June, said: ‘We’ll start piloting changes in how we monitor services from this week, before rolling these out to more services from July.’
The news comes as the CQC was forced to withdraw the ‘risk banding’ element of its intelligent monitoring scheme back in 2015, after it admitted that it recognised patients would have instead perceived the publication of the bandings as a judgement of the quality of care.
At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the CQC announced it was pausing routine inspections.
But GP practices had been asked to welcome CQC inspectors again from 19 October, as the regulator set the start date for its ‘transitional’ regulatory approach based on ‘risk’.