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CQC Essentials: Toys and artworks in GP practices

Does the CQC allow practices to keep toys in the waiting room? The CQC answers questions from GP practices about toys in waiting areas and the safety and suitability of displaying art works in the surgery.

This article relates to the CQC key question: Is your practice safe? and is your practice responsive to people's needs? 

Toys in waiting rooms

We are often asked whether toys are allowed in GP practice waiting rooms and if we expect to see a policy for ensuring that these are kept clean.

We do not have guidance which specifically covers toys and we do not focus on this in our inspections. Nothing in our guidance or regulations forbids GP practices from having toys in their waiting room and they are beneficial for keeping young children occupied. It is generally accepted that toys should be kept clean, but on inspection we do not expect to see a specific policy on how this is achieved or how frequently cleaning takes place.

Our guidance states that a GP practice should follow The Health and Social Care Act 2008 Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance when considering infection control and cleanliness arrangements. The code makes no reference to toys and states that GP practices should:

'Provide and maintain a clean and appropriate environment in managed premises that facilitates the prevention and control of infections.'

Artwork

We have had several questions from GP practices about the safety and suitability of displaying art works in primary healthcare sites.

Is it OK to display art in primary healthcare sites?

Yes. We do not have specific guidance about artworks in a GP practice. Organisations such as the national charity Paintings in Hospitals have been placing artworks in GP practices for 50 years.

Art can brighten up spaces, reduce anxiety and stress for patients and provide positive distractions, particularly in waiting areas, and so it is something to be encouraged. Artworks should generally be appropriate to the audiences who might see them – for example, think about what artworks are chosen for a children’s area.

What should a GP practice consider when installing or hanging artworks?

Consider what would best suit the location: organisations such as Paintings in Hospitals provide free advice.

Artworks must be installed correctly. Paintings in Hospitals advice (and general best practice) on installing and caring for artworks in GP practices and any other health and social care sites is:

  • Artworks should be the right scale for the site, and avoid having sharp edges, or materials that may easily degrade or break off
  • Where possible, artworks should be framed
  • Artwork frames should be glazed using shatterproof (ideally with 2-3mm thick) perspex
  • Frames should be affixed to walls using capped security screws
  • Artworks themselves should not be changed or altered in any way as this may negatively affect the relationship with the artist who produced or donated the work
  • For heavy or valuable artworks, it is advisable to use four ‘mirror plates’
  • If you do not want the fixings to be visible you might want to consider using flush plates
  • To keep the artworks safe, you will need to ensure that they are not in direct sunlight, above radiators, or installed at an inappropriate height
  • Artworks should be carefully removed from the wall when redecoration occurs, not painted around, as this may damage their frames.

Please note: this is best practice advice to consider. CQC inspectors will not routinely check these details when inspecting GP practices

How can artworks in primary healthcare sites be kept clean and safe?

Our guidance 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. This states that GP practices should:

"Provide and maintain a clean and appropriate environment in managed premises that facilitates the prevention and control of infections. The environmental cleaning and decontamination policy should specify how to clean all areas, fixtures and fittings."

You may need to take extra care with artworks, and take specialist advice for unframed, bespoke or unusual artworks.

Contact Paintings in Hospitals for impartial, free advice on choosing, installing or caring for artworks.

  • Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP advisor and responsible officer at the CQC

More CQC resources

Picture: iStock

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