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Are you ready for a CQC inspection?

Donna Hickey explains what a CQC inspection will involve and how practices can best prepare for the experience.

An inspector will typically assess between two and six outcomes (Picture: iStock)
An inspector will typically assess between two and six outcomes (Picture: iStock)

With the CQC registration process now complete, a proportion of GP practices in England can expect to receive their first CQC inspection within the next year.

During this inspection you will be expected to demonstrate that everything you legally declared during the registration process is correct. You should be fully prepared to provide evidence of your compliance with all of the CQC’s essential standards of quality and safety.

What will inspectors assess?

Typically, when an inspector comes into your practice, they will want to assess between two and six outcomes from the CQC essential standards. They will pay particular attention to the outcomes that involve patients.

As such, some of the most commonly assessed areas include outcomes one and two (respecting and involving people who use services and care and consent to treatment), as well as four (care and welfare of people who use services), seven (safeguarding people who use services for abuse) and eight (cleanliness and infection control).

You should also be aware that many outcomes do of course overlap with each other. Staff training, for example, covers a number of different outcomes, as does record keeping, so you should be prepared to provide evidence to support your compliance in areas beyond those outcomes being directly assessed.

Treat inspection positively

If you are to make the most of your CQC inspection, you should endeavour to treat the process in a positive manner. Use the process of preparing for the inspection as a learning experience so you can put in place systems to make your practice administration run smoothly, while improving the quality of care you can provide.

When it comes to the inspection itself, you should be aware that CQC inspectors can work in different ways.

Some inspectors prefer a more interactive approach, taking a tour of the practice before asking questions and checking evidence. Other inspectors like to thoroughly check paperwork first and then leave questions to the end.

Either way it is absolutely essential that all of your paperwork is properly organised and ready to present whenever the inspector asks for it. Documents should be presented in a clear logical, chronological order, ideally in outcome order, though this doesn’t have to be the case.

CQC inspectors really don’t want to have to go round hunting for supporting evidence on the day – that will clearly demonstrate that you don’t have a suitable system in place. If you have already been submitting evidence for QOF inspection, then you shouldn’t find things too dissimilar with CQC. The key is to be organised, with good preparation and evidence to support everything that you do.

Inspectors’ questions

Remember that the inspector will also want to question staff members during the visit. This may only be a selection of team members, but could potentially be all of them.

The inspector may also ask to speak to patients as well. Don’t be alarmed if you are asked to leave the room when the inspector speaks with patients, as they won’t want a patient’s responses influenced by your presence.

After the inspection

Once your inspection has been completed, you can expect to receive a draft report within a few weeks. If you accept the report then this will be finalised ready to be made public on the CQC website a few weeks later.

If the CQC do find there are some areas that need improvement, you will then have 14 days to submit an action plan that is ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound).

It is vital that you submit this action plan within the timeframe allocated, and is equally important that once you have done this, you then implement it. The CQC do randomly spot check, and will check on the next inspection that your action plan has been put in place.

There is a lot to take on board when planning for a CQC inspection, but good preparation and a positive attitude are essential to making your CQC inspection a success.

  • Donna Hickey is head of compliance at healthcare support services provider dbg. For more information call 01606 861 950 or visit www.thedbg.co.uk

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