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CQC to do ‘structured phone calls’ with GP practices during online delay

The CQC is trialling ‘structured phone calls’ with 10-15 GP practices as a temporary replacement for its delayed online data collection system.

The annual provider information collection (PIC) system was due to start operating in April for practices rated good or outstanding but CQC said last year that it would not be ready in time for its April start date.

Using an annual data collection system is intended to cut the frequency of inspections for practices rated good or outstanding to as little as once every five years. However a CQC spokesperson has now said it is not known when PIC will be ready.

In 2016 the CQC announced that it was scaling back inspections in favour of a more risk-based approach based on information and intelligence it received.

The following year the CQC revealed that under the new inspection regime practices would need to provide annual evidence on what changes had occurred in the past year in relation to the quality of care.

Today with no online data collection system in sight, phone calls are being trialled. A CQC spokesperson said that 10-15 practices were involved, although the number would fluctuate according to their availability.

Ruth Rankine, deputy chief inspector of general practice at CQC, said the phone trial was about ensuring a smooth roll-out.

‘Having consulted with practices, the BMA and the RCGP – as well as running a public consultation in 2017 on how regulation of services develops – we are currently testing this approach with a number of practices across the country that have kindly agreed to take part.

‘As regulation evolves we need to make sure that processes, such as the way we ask providers to share information, are as streamlined and efficient as possible so that they work for everyone involved.’

In a blog in October, chief inspector of general practice Professor Field stressed that these interactions were different to inspections: ‘These calls are not inspections – they are a conversation about quality which underpins the development of the practice/inspector relationship.’