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25.10.17

GPs face fewer and simpler CQC inspections from April 2018

Most GP practices will face fewer, more simple ‘focused inspections’ from the CQC from next year, as the organisation published the results of a consultation into changes to the regulation of health and social care in England.

The consultation, which ran from June to August this year, contained proposals on how the organisation registers, monitors, inspects and rates new models of care and large or complex providers.

During the consultation, the CQC received 380 responses from health and social care professionals, the public, carers, service users, CQC staff, trade bodies, the voluntary and community sector, health and social care commissioners and parliamentarians, and other regulators, amongst others.

According to the CQC, the majority of respondents agreed with the proposal that all organisations with accountability for care should be registered, although  some were unsure of how much benefit there would be from this, expressing concerns of too much bureaucracy.

The organisation has said that all entities meeting its revised criteria defining a provider of regulated activities to be registered with it. This will be done in a phased way, beginning in 2018/19.

The consultation found support for providing more detailed and clear information on the register so that people find it simpler to be informed about services.

However, the regulator has not committed to implementing these additional suggestions as it feels that it would increase the workload of the providers by an unacceptable amount, requiring them to apply to make changes to update these details whenever there is a change.

The CQC has committed to investing in a more streamlined, digital system, which will require organisations to inform them if the information held is incorrect, avoiding duplication for providers.

The current system requires providers to share information with the CQC prior to an inspection, much of which is unlikely to have changed.

The regulator proposed to monitor and inspect complex providers that deliver services across traditional hospital, primary care and adult social care sectors, which 83% of respondents supported.

Most commonly, they supported the proposals due to the importance of accountability.

Some respondents did voice concerns about regulatory systems becoming more complex.

In its response, the CQC has said that where its proposals could be developed further, it will ensure the monitoring and inspecting of complex providers is clear.

The second consultation also examined how the regulator can encourage improvements in the quality of care in local areas; how it carries to its role in relation to the fit and proper persons requirement; and how it regulates primary medical care services and adult social care services.

The majority of respondents agreed that the CQC’s proposals would help to encourage improvement in the quality of care across a local area, with many suggesting that this might ensure a greater focus on the overall experience of people using care.

Some were concerned about increasing costs and bureaucracy.

The CQC has said that it will review its language to ensure that it is clear and understandable, and will learn from its 20 system reviews being undertaken this year.

Most respondents, particularly those from voluntary organisations, supported the proposed methods of monitoring quality in GP practices.

Those who expressed concerns felt that the proposals would increase the regulatory burden on practices, duplicating information that is already collected.

In 2018 the regulator will introduce an online provider information collection, enabling service providers to share any changes in their services.

It has pledged to only request data that is not already available from any other source.

In terms of inspecting GP practices, some respondents welcomed the proposed increased interval between inspections of those rated good or outstanding, whereas others were concerned that problems could develop in this time and not be picked up on without an inspection.

From November an increased interval of up to five years will be introduced.

Those rated as inadequate will continue to be followed up within six months, and practices rated as requiring improvement within 12 months.

From April 2018, inspections of providers rated as good or outstanding will be focused rather than comprehensive.

The CQC says that it will work more closely with providers, local stakeholders and its partners to ensure that its approach is tailored to services, and makes sense for the provider.

The regulator has said that its changes will be introduced in a phased approach.

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