When the CQC calls to tell you that you’re up for inspection, it triggers one of the most nerve-racking experiences practice managers will ever go through. In this blog Practice Index has spoken to practice managers who have endured the pain – and survived – the pressures of being inspected, to provide an insight into the preparation that can be put in place to help the big inspection day run smoothly.
Here are some of the comments received:
Use the notice period
“You’ll be given two weeks’ notice before inspection so use this time to ensure all practice policies are up to date, relevant infection control policies are in place and audited, premises are up to standard and that all staff are aware of what may be asked and expected from them.”
“It’s vital that all staff know what’s expected of them and are involved in the preparation. Together, look at practice procedures to ensure everything is up-to-date and use information from the CQC and LMC as well as speaking to other practice managers about their experience.”
“Find – and update if necessary – your Statement of Purpose, and ensure practice leaflets and complaints procedure are visible.”
“Ensure all staff know what to expect and the potential areas of inspection and questions that will be asked.”
See http://practiceindex.co.uk/gp/blog/cqc/aim-high-cqc-inspection/ for an insight here.
Think like an inspector
“Previous inspection reports on www.cqc.org.uk/content/doctorsgps proved priceless to us. Reading the reports and working out what inspectors are looking for – good and bad – helped us enormously. It is great to see where other practices are being praised, so we got a team meeting together and worked out examples of where our practice was carrying out similar programmes. The inspectors liked to see these examples of our good work.”
“As soon as possible after notification of inspection it’s worth getting in touch with those involved in patient participation groups. I was amazed how willing patients were to talk to the inspectors who called before visiting us.”
“We found that the inspectors constantly wanted to see evidence when we gave verbal answers, so ensure you can back up everything you say with relevant paperwork. The inspectors were very clear that they wanted to see examples of good practice rather than finding faults.”
The start of the day
“Start early on the day of inspection – it’ll help to relax people before the inspection team arrives.”
“The inspectors arrived just after 9am and wanted to get going pretty much immediately so be prepared. They didn’t go home until after 4pm!”
“Perhaps the best thing we did was provide the inspectors with a dedicated room for the day – that went down well with them.”
“Be warm and welcoming to the inspectors – first impressions count! Introduce everybody and encourage the inspectors to provide an outline of what the day will involve so that everybody knows what to expect.”
On the day
“Ensure you have as many staff as possible available as you will need to give the inspectors plenty of time. I spent most of my day answering questions, as well as finding and printing documents and policies. Remember to buy in printer ink – you’ll need it.”
“Staff training, practice records and risk analysis were particular areas of concern for the inspectors. A practice manager at a nearby surgery told me that business continuity planning was focused on during their inspection. Every small detail was investigated – no stone was left unturned.”
“The inspectors spoke to all members of staff and weren’t afraid of asking anybody questions. Medical staff were provided with allocated interview times, which lasted anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes. The inspectors spoke to patients throughout the day, albeit relatively briefly. Patients seemed to love it!”
“We were surprised by the number in the inspection team. There were five people in all, comprising a CQC lead inspector who headed up the team, a GP specialist adviser, a second CQC Inspector, a practice nurse specialist adviser and a CQC pharmacist inspector.
After the visit
“It’s important not to take any issues that come to light personally. The inspectors were really helpful and provided loads of advice that I can take forward to improve the practice. It was actually really helpful, as I’m relatively new to the practice, and not nearly as stressful as we had led ourselves to believe.”
“We had a debrief and a stiff drink! The debrief was useful and we recorded what we said so that we can refer back to it next time the inspector calls!”
We hope that provides an insight into how to prepare for an inspection and what happens on the big day. Most of the practice managers we spoke to were surprised at the level of detail involved but said that as long as paperwork is in order, everybody in the practice is briefed well and documented proof is available, the inspection shouldn’t be too painful.
We would love to hear how you prepared for an inspection, so please do comment below. If you have any CQC inspection questions feel free to take them to the Practice Index forum where other PMs will be able to offer their help and advice.