New style CQC inspections to start in April

NEW style GP inspection teams plan to visit all 8,000 practices in England over two years from April 2014, the Care Quality Commission announced this month.

Each inspection team will include a CQC inspector, a GP, a practice nurse or practice manager and a trainee GP, and may also include a member of the public. The teams will focus on five key questions in regard to healthcare services: are they safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well led.

Inspectors will visit CCG areas once every six months, inspecting a quarter of the practices in each area, with the aim visiting every practice in England by April 2016. Practices will be given one of four ratings – "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" and "inadequate".

A recent report on pilot inspections of 1,000 practices found that 34 per cent had failed at least one of the required standards, and in nine cases the failings were so serious that they could "potentially affect thousands of people". But this report is not reflective of the overall quality of primary care in England as around 80 per cent of pilot practices had been targeted because of known concerns.

Among failings indentified were emergency drugs being out of date or stored on the floor and a lack of temperature checks of vaccine fridges. Inspectors also found some practices visibly dirty with improper cleaning schedules and poor knowledge of infection control among staff.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector for General Practice said: "We need to make sure that everyone, from the most well-off to the most disadvantaged, can get access to really good primary medical care.

"There are a minority of practices providing unacceptable care – it is essential that we shine a spotlight on these bad practices to make sure the care their patients receive improves and that we do this by regulating, monitoring and inspecting the sector in a robust and effective way.

"At the other end of the spectrum, we want to highlight good and outstanding practices and encourage improvement in GP surgeries across England."

Starting in January, pilot CQC inspections will focus on GP out-of-hours services which are believed to be at higher risk of poor care than other general practice services.

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A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of GP practices and GP out-of-hours services