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CQC to visit and inspect one in ten GP practices

As many as 10% of GP practices will be inspected in person by the Care Quality Commission because they are at ‘significant risk of non-compliance’, the regulator has revealed.

In an evidence session to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, officials from the CQC warned they expected a significant minority of practices to be at risk of non-compliance with registration requirements, based on pilots run last year.

GP practices will be required to state the functions they perform and self-assess compliance with CQC standards from April 2013.

Amanda Sherlock, director of operations at the CQC, told MPs the pilots had shown that a significant number of GPs were non-compliant: ‘We are anticipating that there will be 10% will present a significant risk of non-compliance.’

Asked by the committee if that meant the CQC would visit these practices, Ms Sherlock said: ‘Yes, we will physically go.’

Ms Sherlock also stated that single-handed GPs who are related to their practice managers posed a particular concern to the CQC.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said evidence from the pilots showed GPs were largely honest in confessing to non-compliance in their practices, but said they would be investigated if they had differing evidence from the GMC, Local Involvement Network (LINk) groups, or primary care commissioners.

Ms Bower told MPs: ‘One of the things we have been doing is doing some model compliance reviews and seeing where the risk areas are.’

In response to a question about visits to GPs, she added: ‘A proportion of those we will absolutely go visit, as we believe the concerns that they are raising may pose a risk to patients.’

A CQC spokesperson said that the nature of the visits, and whether they would be spot inspections or pre-arranged appointments, had yet to be determined.

The disclosure comes after Pulse revealed this week that more than 30 dental practices have failed to secure registration with the CQC, in the first sign that regulation by the new body is prompting some providers to shut down.