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What to expect from your Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection

by in CQC, GP Practice Management

CQC inspectionThe CQC started regulating general practices last year, grading them on a four point scale: “outstanding”, “good”, “requires improvement” and “inadequate”. David Behan, the CQC’s CEO, explains that their objective is to make sure people receive “safe, effective, compassionate, and high-quality health and adult social care”. Behan points out that the CQC has made “radical changes” to the way they inspect care institutions, by carrying out more inspections than in previous years.

We all remember the news that some GP Practices were closed after being inspected by the CQC. In a poll last year, 300 Practice Managers were asked if they felt they were ready for their CQC inspection. Only 10% said they felt ready. I think that percentage will be a lot higher now but the CQC inspection should never be taken likely.

All social care institutions in the UK can now expect an unannounced CQC inspection on a yearly basis – more often if there’s reason to monitor your place of work more closely. In a doctor’s surgery, teams of inspectors that include experienced health professionals will be focussing their attention on 21 national standards which cover issues such as: respect for patients and patient safeguarding and welfare; consent to care and treatment; connections with other providers; cleanliness; medicine management and equipment safety; staffing and staff needs – including support staff; record keeping; complaints, and self-assessment within the practice. These published standards represent the standards that people can and should expect from their healthcare provider.

While many inspections are unannounced, others are scheduled and some will be themed if a specific area needs specific attention within your practice. First of all, inspectors will talk to patients about the care they receive, getting to the very heart of their experience at your surgery. Care staff will also be interviewed, and your key systems and processes checked. Essentially, your inspector will look to highlight any evidence that your practice is not meeting the national standards mentioned above – and then help address the issue with you.

Inspectors use a simple system by which to assess each area of care, based around these four questions:

  • Are they effective?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they well led?
  • Are they responsive to people’s needs?

What you can do to prepare for your CQC inspection

Ensure staff are trained appropriately
An inspector may ask your receptionist what they would do if he or she had concerns about a child, or whether they know how to perform CPR. All your reception staff should have received safeguarding and basic first aid training.

Ask for feedback
Encourage patients to complete questionnaires on the service they receive. This will help you locate issues before an inspector does.

Be prepared
Talk to your staff about the role of the CQC and what may happen during an inspection visit. Keep CQC a regular fixture on staff meeting agendas. You may want to put up a notice in your waiting room on the day of your inspection so your patients know what is happening.

You will usually receive your CQC report within ten working days of your visit. You will then have a further ten working days to check its accuracy and send comments back to the CQC.


If you are looking for a bit of help and guidance through your CQC inspection preparation, then please have a look at these rated and reviewed companies that specialise in providing support to GP Practices.  

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