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Secret Diary of a CQC Inspector: CQC Phone Inspections

The past few months have seen some quite significant changes to how the CQC inspects GP practices. The main difference is that now practices will get an 'inspection' over the phone, which is a departure from the online questionnaire we all expected.


It’s most likely that this conversation will be with the GP practice manager, although you may want to include a GP or someone with more detailed knowledge of a particular topic if you have a speaker phone or can link them in. It does not seem as if this has been a problem so far from feedback about the first round of ‘inspection’ phonecalls.

The call is expected to take about an hour and the questions are already posted on the CQC website, which you can find by clicking here.
 

On-site inspections are still on the agenda

You will still get on-site inspections no more than five years apart if you were rated Good or Outstanding at your previous inspection, but you can expect them much more frequently if you were not.

So – what are the current hot topics that seem to be attracting the most attention of CQC inspectors when they visit? Most of all you need to have a firm grasp of how your practice is performing, especially when it comes to topics that have been in the news or where you have said you are excelling in particular areas.

Inspectors will ask for evidence of high achievement and that means documentation, figures and minutes of meetings where performance has been discussed and actions were agreed. You’ll be at a great advantage if you are able to show you have this evidence at your fingertips.

The ‘big three’ for CQC inspectors

You can be assured that inspectors will check the “big three”.

  1. Audits - Have you done enough? Have your GPs done any second audit cycles?)
  2. Significant Events - Can you demonstrate how your practice has learned from them – and can you prove you have checked that learning is being applied?
  3. Complaints - Have you been open and honest, identified actions and, once again, checked and documented that any changes are being carried out several months down the line?


The impact of the NHS Long-Term Plan

You can also be assured that the new NHS Long-Term Plan will trigger questions. A particular area to pay attention to is carers - you will need to show you are identifying them proactively, especially young carers or those in hard-to-reach categories such as refugees or groups where engagement can be problematic due to cultural or language issues.

The Long-Term Plan will also surely mean that organisational structures in Primary Care Networks will be looked at more in terms of leadership, keeping up to date on operational and clinical matters and - as always - being responsive to patient feedback.

I make no apologies for returning to the one issue that always seems to crop up and probably always will – documentation. Vital evidence will be needed by way of minutes of meetings, coupled with an attendance list. Proof of how well you are doing in different areas will be needed by way of empirical data (figures and analysis) as well as continuous performance monitoring and feedback to those individuals who are carrying out the tasks.


The days of saying “you are great because you work hard” are well past – you will need to show results.

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