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CQC to pause unannounced GP access inspections for the rest of the year


CQC access inspections


Unannounced inspections of GP practices focused on patient access will be postponed for the next three weeks until January 2022, the CQC has said.

GPs have been asked to prioritise Covid boosters over routine appointments and in response to this and ‘alarming’ new data on the Omicron variant, the CQC announced that it will cancel inspections across health services.

A spokesperson confirmed to Pulse that this includes the recently-announced targeted GP access inspections.

The regulator said the decision was made ‘in recognition’ of the fact that expanding the booster programme will ‘require a massive effort from the NHS which is already under severe pressure’.

CQC set out its framework for the unannounced access inspections – which were announced as part of NHS England plans for improving access to GP practices this winter – last week.

Before that, the CQC said that routine inspections of GP practices would be indefinitely paused, and  ‘only risk-based assessments’ would be undertaken where ‘deemed critical to safety and quality’.

The pausing of inspections was confirmed in a letter from NHS England laying out further details of the booster vaccination programme, sent out to GPs on Monday evening (please visit PulseToday for updates throughout the day).

It said: ‘To support the rollout, the Care Quality Commission has confirmed it will postpone on-site inspections in mainstream NHS services for three weeks (ie hospitals, ambulances, GPs, 111), except in cases where we have reason to believe serious failings in safety pose a risk to life, or serious harm.’

The CQC statement said: ‘We will also be offering additional support to acute hospitals and GPs in order to provide advice on the risks they are facing and to escalate these if necessary.‘This decision has been taken in response to the extremely fast-moving situation, with the aim of being as supportive as possible to the increased pressure on the NHS. It updates previous communications on our inspection approach – however, our priority, as ever, remains to keep people safe.’

The news comes just days after the Department of Health and Social Care told Pulse that the introduction of ‘plan B’ restrictions meant ‘no change’ to the GP Access Fund plans.

And from April, the CQC will inspect GP practices on compliance with five different new points related to mandatory staff Covid vaccination.

READERS' COMMENTS [13]

Kevlar Cardie 14 December, 2021 9:03 am

Beatings are on pause.

David Bush 14 December, 2021 9:31 am

When we are in the middle of a health crisis we don’t need the CQC. When GP’s are under unprecedented pressure to keep services running we don’t need the CQC. When we (or the media) fear swathes of missed cancer diagnoses we don’t need the CQC.
Do we ever really need the CQC?
Are they only going back to work when everything settles down and life is really comfy again (don’t hold your breath)? Am I the only one thinking they would be of more use if they rolled up their sleeves and jabbed a few punters?

Neil Tallant 14 December, 2021 10:06 am

Well I guess they should all be working from home – However they are a government appointees and they don’t always follow the rules…

Barry Moyse 14 December, 2021 10:40 am

Derisory delay.

James Mitchell 14 December, 2021 10:48 am

Be fair these are hard working public servants dedicated to driving up standards. They will be devastated at stopping work at this time.

Cameron Wilson 14 December, 2021 10:50 am

Yep, no CQC nonsense North of the Border and am sure their standards aren’t any worse because of it!

C P 14 December, 2021 12:16 pm

When the regulator stops regulating it is a sign the system is well and truly in trouble. If it has a negative impact on delivery, hence it’s activities suspended, why keep it in existence?

Iain Chalmers 14 December, 2021 12:23 pm

That’s 17 days, less if you included BH

Make it 17years and evidence useful redeployment I’m might be mildly impressed

Patrufini Duffy 14 December, 2021 1:04 pm

The rest of the year is half bank holidays. Genius marketing. Helping you but not really.

Patrufini Duffy 14 December, 2021 2:38 pm

I wonder what “Prof” Steve Field is doing the Xmas? Counting his closure successes?

Anthony Gould 15 December, 2021 5:36 am

Why haven’t all the CQC ‘expert’ teams been redeployed to see patients or trained to vaccinate
Those that can do do Those that don’t accelerate burnout in others
Shocking waste of vital resources in a pandemic

Michael Mullineux 15 December, 2021 4:42 pm

Truth is it fits in conveniently with their Christmas break.

James Weems 15 December, 2021 10:56 pm

Get the mm delivering vaccines over Xmas