Keep Calm it's Only a CQC Inspection

What happens when you get the dreaded phone call giving you 48 hours notice of a CQC inspection?

Firstly – don’t panic!  Evidence  from the pilot visits and dental practices shows that the CQC inspectors are mostly normal people who just want to do their job well and that they have taken a reasonable approach to practices where they can’t quite put their hands on the evidence at the time.

What can you do to be prepared for a CQC Inspection?

One of the most important issues is to keep things up to date. You can’t allow work such as policy reviews, staff records or risk assessments to get out of date or forgotten.  Make a schedule at the beginning of the year for all your policies that will need reviewing.  A simple spreadsheet will allow you to code all your policies and indicate the mechanism for review – which might be through one of your regular team meetings - who leads on that particular area and the month in which it needs to be done.

Remember a Policy review does not necessarily mean that it has to be amended or rewritten.

Keep your staff training up to date. I suggest a Training Passport, which keeps details of any statutory or mandatory training that people need to do alongside their personal development objectives from their annual appraisal. You can decide the frequency of the training and encourage the team to see that keeping up to date is partly their responsibility.

The CQC inspector will want to talk to the staff and the patients who are there on the day. Both groups need to know what will happen on the day so start informing the patients who book appointments for that day. Tell them that they will have the opportunity, if they wish, to give some feedback to the inspector in private and anonymously. I would also suggest having a sign to put up close to the reception desk or self check in screen that reminds patients of the CQC inspection.

The staff team also need to be prepared. Some of the key things that they need to know about will include:

  • The 16 standards that they may assess – they need to know what these cover in practical terms
  • They need to be familiar with the CQC language and terminology including areas such as equality and diversity, risk assessments, human rights
  • Where policies and protocols are kept and they need to know the content of the those relevant to their job
  • The information available to patients and all the ways in which patients can access information about services
  • Make sure everyone is aware of the patient participation group feedback or results of the national survey – especially where this says positive things about the practice

Your staff needs to recognise the importance of the little things that they do for individual patients are relevant evidence. They may just perceive that this is just “doing their job”, but examples of the ways in which they meet the needs of individual patients help  provide evidence for several of the CQC standards.

CQC inspectors are very keen to see how you demonstrate that your patients have opportunities to give you feedback and that you listen to it and act upon it where appropriate. If you have a patient participation or liaison group, make sure that you can demonstrate examples of using their feedback. The simple process of reporting back on “you said...”  “we did ...” principles shows that you are listening to them.

And Finally...

Would it be beneficial to the team to carry out a “dummy” inspection?  You could ask another practice manager or GP to do one for you and you could reciprocate.  The staff could then get a real feel of what it is like to answer questions and deal with the inspection whilst doing their job.

If you know any local Dental Practice Managers – they might be prepared to talk you through the process and give some tips and hints on what happens. Also, take a look at the profiles section on the CQC website. You will be able to see the reports of other inspections including your local dental practices. It might be worthwhile discussing the evidence they have used at your team meetings.

Most importantly, have confidence that you are delivering services that ensure that your patients are safe in your care and in your premises; that the care, treatment and advice that they receive meets all the latest standards and guidance and that you take into account the needs of patients in the way in which you communicate with and provide services to them.

We would like to know all about your experience with CQC inspections. Have you had your CQC inspection already or know a Practice Manager who has? Then we would like to hear from you! Please get in contact via

Do you like our Keep Calm CQC banner? Why not download our exclusive Keep Calm CQC Desktop Wallpaper here (Just click on the link provided, right click on the image a save it to your computer)

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