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The ever-changing CQC environment

by in CQC, GP Practice Management

A lot has changed in regard to the CQC over recent months, and it would appear that the CQC are far from reaching a state of #newnormal2020 (other hashtags are available). We’ve been kept abreast of changes to the CQC’s regulatory approach, which saw them pause routine inspections and only inspect those organisations that were deemed to pose a risk to people’s safety and human rights. As part of their developmental work, the CQC introduced the Emergency Support Framework (ESF), aimed at helping CQC inspectors to understand where people may be at the greatest risk of unsafe care.

The ESF isn’t an inspection (of course it’s not), but a conversation aimed at helping the CQC to understand not only the challenges faced by providers, but also how providers are being innovative in their service delivery during challenging times. Being optimistic, the ESF really could be your opportunity to showcase areas of outstanding practice and to say to the CQC, “Look at what we’re doing well,” despite the pressures of COVID-19 and preparing for flu clinics!

In July, the Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services, Dr Rosie Benneyworth, updated us on further changes to the way the CQC operate, specifically their transitional regulatory approach. The title gives it away; being ‘transitional’ means we can expect further changes, as the CQC outline their strategy to enable visits to providers. Yes, that’s right; soon it’ll be the return of the CQC (not sure why, but that comment made me think of the Mark Morrison song, ‘Return of the Mack’).

“How are they going to do it?” you may well ask. Well, the answer was provided in August by the CQC’s Chief Exec, Ian Trenholm, who said, “From September, we’ll be introducing a Transitional Regulatory Approach. This will be a flexible, iterative approach that brings together the best of our existing methodologies with learning from our COVID-19 response, in a way that enables us to better deliver our purpose. Importantly, this will include us visiting providers.” No need to panic just yet, as Dr Benneyworth has reassured us (on 3rd Sept) that the process of inspecting providers will recommence but it will primarily focus on “providers in general practice who are currently in special measures and who would have been due an inspection”. The aim is to gather evidence without visiting the practice and then to carry out only a short site visit.

You may be thinking, “I’m off the hook!” and you won’t be facing an inspection, or perhaps you are anticipating an inspection soon. What the process will be for the ‘short site visit’ is not yet clear, but what is apparent is that you’ll need to be fully prepared for when an inspector calls, and for a very different inspection: “To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated” (James P. Carse).

So, to help you prepare (for some sort of inspection), we’ve produced a PowerPoint presentation here [PLUS] which managers can deliver to their teams. It explains what the CQC do during an inspection. Have no fear, this is not ‘death by PowerPoint’, to coin a phrase, but a reminder of the basics, some questions for the team, pre-inspection preparation and some examples of how you can seize the moment and showcase your organisation. As I said, this isn’t ‘death by PowerPoint’ as the presentation concludes with a short quiz; call it a team-bonding exercise!.

We’ll soon be releasing an additional PowerPoint presentation which you can use to help you deliver your 30-minute ‘opportunity to shine’ presentation to the CQC on the day of your inspection. Good luck and stay safe.

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