Following the recent completion of their latest round of telephone-based CQC inspections, a pair of practice managers have kindly shared their top findings and handy hints to help other PMs better prepare for the ordeal. Grab a hot drink (or something stronger), settle down and buckle up…
- Be prepared. You have the questions in advance, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have the answers in advance.
- When we received the initial call, we agreed on a date for the ARR within the next month. We then essentially answered the questions in the next week or so.
- For the review, we read off our answers which we had converted into a script type document.
- We also engaged as many staff as possible in the process to ensure we got as much information as possible. This was extremely useful as it meant we covered a lot! It also meant that we didn’t forget anything.
- The questions are based around what is new since your last inspection, but if you did something well and continued to do so, I would mention it!
- We were asked explicitly regarding how we had addressed areas that we were asked to improve on from the last report. Read up and make sure this can be explained/justified/evidenced.
- On a similar theme, inspectors will have looked at ‘safeguarding concerns’ and ‘complaints’, so brush up on them, in case they ask – we did not have any to discuss, but they told us they had looked at these and we were fine. I’m guessing this will be a more detailed conversation if the above are issues for some practices. they were also aware of QOF and local contract performances.
- PCWT triggers were disc we were prepared for this, so it was fine, but definitely look them up – they were NOT part of the questions listed and it was the only time the inspector went off-script.
- CQC say on their website the call will be around an hour. Leave yourself longer than this as ours ended up being two hours!
- The majority of the call was on-script and the inspector followed the questions sent quite strictly… and we did 95% of the talking.
- The inspector will listen and type/write up notes as they go. This led to a few occasions of silence, but you get used to it. Don’t feel obliged to fill this silence!
- Our inspector thought we had answered a few questions when we hadn’t finished our lists! When we said we had more they apologised and asked us to keep going. So, in summary, don’t let them dictate the phone call. It is your inspection and you shouldn’t leave it with anything you didn’t say but wish you did.
- Sell the practice. This is your chance to impress CQC. Be proud of your achievements.
- Inspectors liked examples with answers, so if you are saying you have done X, then give a recent example of it.
- Our inspector wasn’t aware of our (or other similar) Facebook groups but really liked them as a resource, etc. – again, sell yourselves.
- Inspectors have a couple of additional questions for each of the categories, but I’m not sure what all of these are, as our inspector said we had covered most of them in what we had already said. However, one extra question that was asked was about changes we implemented based on the results of our own patient survey or the GP national survey. In addition, they also ask additional questions based on our last CQC physical inspection report, (as opposed to any follow up virtual reports).
- Whilst it does say it on the CQC website, it is important to note that the telephone call CANNOT change your rating. However, it can trigger an inspection. You will be notified if this is going to take place with the ARR report from CQC, which will be sent to the registered manager by email within the next week or so. If an inspection is required, this will take place within the next six months. However, you won’t know the exact date until two weeks before. If you are re-inspected, the slightly good news is this telephone call forms part of that inspection and as a result, you won’t need to submit any pre-visit information to CQC in advance of the inspection.
- What we didn’t fully realise is an inspection could be triggered if CQC feels your quality has decreased or INCREASED. For example, if you have improved dramatically from your last inspection, you may be re-inspected with the aim of increasing your rating!
- Overall, our inspector was warm and welcoming and it was a pleasant relaxed conversation.
- Dare I say it, but my personal view of CQC is to support what they do. We are a public body and should be monitored. The issues seem to be how the inspections take place. Therefore, this approach is good as it means everyone is measured against the same set of questions. Yes, it is an extra piece of work each year, but if you manage it correctly, you can use your first review as a baseline going forward. We now plan to make a live document (similar to the one in the files section) so we are further prepared for the next review.
- We took the review seriously and used it an opportunity to make sure policies and resources were updated and in place/reviewed.
- I’ve got a ‘changes file’ from now to next April (let’s see if I actually use it beyond next week).
- Download and read this: A guide to the CQC annual regulatory review process (CQC phonecall) [PLUS]
Do you have anything to add to the above? Let us know by commenting below or share your views on the Practice Index Forum.
Practice managers with an upcoming CQC inspection may find the following resources helpful:
CQC guidance [PLUS]
CQC checklist – A guide to success [PLUS]
Management policy and procedures [PLUS]
A guide to the CQC annual regulatory review process (CQC phonecall) [PLUS]