The CQC will expand its inspection remit from next week to include GP practices where there is ‘evidence that people are at risk of harm’.
Whilst GPs were focusing on the Covid booster campaign, it had only inspected where there was ‘evidence of risk to life or very serious harm’.
In an update to practices, chief inspector of primary care Dr Rosie Benneyworth said this comes in response to Covid restrictions easing in England.
She said: ‘Considering the current situation – including the easing of restrictions across the country – we have reviewed and updated our regulatory approach.
‘From 1 February we will now also inspect where there is evidence that people are at risk of harm. While our priority always remains to keep people safe we are also focused on ensuring that our approach remains appropriate and proportionate.’
The CQC will also inspect ‘where a focus on the urgent and emergency care system will help us understand the pressures, where local or national support is needed, and share good practice to drive improvement’, she added.
The CQC will also restart monitoring of general practices where it may take further action, such as an inspection.
It said: ‘Alongside our risk-based activity we will undertake ongoing monitoring of services. This helps to identify where we may need to take further action to ensure people are receiving safe care and offer support to providers.’
CQC’s chief inspector of general practice Rosie Benneyworth previously said that ‘all’ concerns raised about GP access would be followed up – although not all would result in unannounced practice inspections.
From 13 December, inspections only took place where there was ‘evidence of risk to life, or the immediate risk of serious harm to people’.
The CQC has also not said when it will restart regular inspections of all GP practices, which have been on hold since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, from April this year, the CQC will inspect GP practices on compliance with five different new points related to mandatory staff Covid vaccination.
It comes as the CQC admitted its inspection and monitoring methodology ‘may inadvertently disadvantage’ ethnic minority-run GP practices, leading to ‘inequities’.