GPs will have to register online and select from a limited number of time slots this summer to submit their application form to the CQC, the regulator has revealed.
In guidance that gives GPs as step-by-step guide on the procedures and milestones ahead of the 1 April 2013 deadline, the regulator said GPs should start gathering evidence of compliance now ahead of the deadline for registration with the regulator next April and be prepared to set-up an online registration account by July 2012 to provide basic information to the CQC.
After this, GPs will then be asked to pick a 28-day window between September and December 2012 when they will be able to submit their full application form. The guidance says there will be a limited number of spaces in each application window, so advises GPs to register as early as possible for more choice.
The CQC will process applications between September 2012 and March 2013. It said it would process applications ‘as soon as they are submitted to us’ – but said some may take longer and require a more in-depth review, which could include being contacted or visited by the regulator.
The guidance, entitled An Overview of registration with the CQC, says GPs in partnerships will have to be registered with the partnership as a whole, whilst single handed GPs should register as an individual.
Practices that are set up as a limited company, charity or LLP will have to register as an organisation. Where regulated activity is provided as a joint venture between two providers, the venture is likely to be a legal entity in its own right and must register.
The document adds that multiple branch surgeries can be included under the same practice registration, ‘as long as only patients from the same registered patient list are seen and treated at these places’.
It adds: ‘If the branch surgery treats patients from a different registered patient list to that of the main surgery, the branch surgery will need to be included in your registration as a location in its own right.’
When registering, GPs will be asked to make specific declarations of compliance or non-compliance with 16 of the CQC’s 28 standards that relate most directly to quality and safety. The remaining 12 standards relate more to ‘day-to-day management of service’ – and can be flagged up to the CQC once registered.
The CQC said practices can be registered for 1 April 2013 even if they are not compliant with all essential standards, but would be subject to conditions, and would need to ‘submit an action plan to outline how you will achieve compliance, and by when.’
On premises standards, which have caused some practices concern over their ability to meet standards, the guidance adds: ‘Compliance with the essential standards does not mean that all primary care has to be provided in modern, purpose-built and state-of-the-art premises. But we need to be assured that the premises from which primary care is provided are safe and accessible for patients.’
‘We will only take action in relation to this standard if we feel that patients are being put at risk by unsafe premises and where practices have failed to implement necessary and reasonable changes to ensure that these risks are appropriately managed.’
CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower, who announced her resignation last week and will be departing from the role shortly, said: ‘Now is the time to start considering whether your services meet the essential standards and what evidence you have to show you are meeting them.’
‘Although your registration has been delayed until 2013, it is important that you begin preparing now as the registration process will start in Summer 2012.’
Professor David Haslam, professional adviser to the CQC, said: ‘We are confident that the majority of practices and providers of primary care are of good quality and are already doing everything that needs to be done to be compliant with the essential standards of quality and safety.’
‘However, we also know that some of the language and terms we use regarding regulation are unfamiliar. I hope this guide helps you to understand more about how the CQC registration process applies to you and some of the key concepts that underpin how we regulate.’