HSE guidance says that risk assessments must be kept up to date but doesn’t specify a time frequency. However, it is good practice to repeat risk assessments at least annually and if you are inspected, the CQC will want to see these.
Fire risk: The HSE provides guidance on conducting a fire safety risk assessment. Based on the findings of the assessment, the practice needs to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
Health and safety: Employers have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. There are a number of requirements in health and safety regulations covering the work environment, including ventilation, lighting, cleanliness, work stations, equipment maintenance, hazard warnings, drinking water and facilities to rest and eat meals. More information can be found by clicking the link below.
Premises and disabled access: Walk around your premises to check that everything is in a good state of repair. It is also worth checking that a wheelchair or mobility scooter can access reception, the disabled toilet and a consulting room. What modifications have you made for those with a sensory impairment (sight and hearing)? Do you have a hearing loop? What happens if a patient cannot read or hear the call board? Since July 2016 it has been mandatory for practices to ask and record whether patients need accessible information and have a policy for making this available to patients that need it.
Infection control: Check your policy is up to date. Are cleaning schedules being carried out regularly? Spot check a clinical room to ensure it meets the requirements.
Disaster recovery: Is your plan up to date? Do all staff know what to do if there is an emergency. It is worth going over this annually with everyone as a refresher.
Workplace stress: The world of general practice can be a stressful one, there are regular changes, new services, demanding patients, reduced time and so on. It would be worth undertaking a risk assessment to see how the practice rates in terms of stress. Even the act of doing the assessment will highlight what simple steps can be taken to reduce stress and allow people a chance to talk about what they are feeling.
Although you may feel you are too busy (and stressed) to undertake this, the benefits if done properly can be a reduction in stress or at least an opportunity for everyone to recognise where the main stressors are and take steps to minimise them.
Information Governance toolkit
Practices need to undertake an annual review of their information governance (IG) policies and complete the national IG toolkit https://www.igt.hscic.gov.uk/ It can be painful, but the penalties for getting it wrong are stark, with the possibility of very large fines.
From April 2018 the Information Governance Toolkit will change to become the Data Security and Protection Toolkit. This will assess how well organisations are implementing the 10 data security standards and meeting their statutory obligations on data security and data protection. You can find more on this here.
As we move towards a more online presence for general practice it is worth ensuring that your IG policies keep pace with these changes and that staff are aware of their responsibilities.
We are awaiting guidance from NHS Digital about the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is being introduced in May 2018, which will have implications for information governance.
Other articles in this series:
- Annual calendar of practice management: Strategy, key meetings and document updates
- Annual calendar of practice management: Staff issues
Fionnuala O'Donnell is a practice manager in Ealing, West London, and a CCG board member.