When you receive communication telling you that your practice is in line for a CQC inspection, it’s understandable that your heart might sink and panic set in. After all, how will you find the time to replace those fabric curtains in your surgery with paper ones? And what will you replace your carpets with given they’re not allowed anywhere in your practice?
The good news, if you can call it that, is that much of the panic and worry practice managers suffer from is caused by inspection myths. The two points mentioned above are just a couple of the untruths floating around the GP practice manager community. Indeed, the CQC does not specifically have guidance to cover curtains in a GP practice. It states that a practice should follow The Health and Social Care Act 2008, Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance. Within the code of practice, it states that surgeries should: ‘Provide and maintain a clean and appropriate environment in managed premises that facilitates the prevention and control of infections.’ So, the inspectors will be looking for curtains that appear visibly clean and for evidence of a system that ensures curtains are cleaned or changed at least once every six months.
Fact or fiction?
So how can you separate CQC inspection fact from fiction? Handily, the CQC itself has published a series of mythbusters with the aim of clarifying some of the common myths – 34 and counting – about GP and out-of-hours services inspections. Helpfully, these mythbusters, which can be found by clicking here, also share agreed guidance, something practice managers might find really useful ahead of a forthcoming inspection.
In addition to the examples mentioned above about carpets and curtains, here’s a small selection of some of the common myths that have been debunked.
Specific emergency drugs must be present in practices and GP home visit bags – This is a myth as the CQC recognises that the drugs required by a remote and rural GP can be very different to drugs required by an inner city GP.
Blank computer prescription forms have to kept in a safe – This isn’t strictly true as the CQC expects all staff involved in the management of prescription forms to be able to tell them how the practice manages and secures blank prescription forms and paper.
Signs about hand washing must be displayed – The CQC will look for satisfactory hand washing facilities and for evidence that training has been provided so that all staff members are meeting practice standards. Signs aren’t compulsory, even if they might be a good idea.
Practices must tell the CQC about every registered patient death – This is only true in certain circumstances. For example, if the death occurred while care was actually being provided.
Significant event analysis cannot be used to show quality improvement – This is false. The CQC states that examples of significant events can be very wide-ranging and can reflect good as well as poor practice.
We will be marked down if we don’t offer translation services – This isn’t always true. The CQC expects practices to be responsive to the needs of the population they serve and this will vary from practice to practice.
And finally… carpets
Contrary to popular belief, carpets can be used in areas where the risk of spillage is lower, such as consulting rooms, waiting areas, dispensing areas and administrative, storage and meeting rooms. Appropriate maintenance and cleaning programmes should be in place and, in the event of spillage, the practice should have the appropriate equipment and protocol in place to clean the affected area.
Carpets should not be used in treatment and minor surgery rooms or areas where frequent spillage is anticipated.
What myths have you discovered to be fictional? What advice can you share with your fellow practice managers? We would love to see your comments below or take it to the forum where your discussions are only seen by other Practice Index members.