CQC’s future strategy unveiled this week includes the commitment to increase the frequency of unannounced inspections of GPs. This approach will look to utilise information gathered outside of the physical inspection even more to more effectively carry out these inspections.
The increase in unannounced inspections is to be combined with the relaxation of inspections of those GPs who are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. The maximum amount of time between inspections for these higher rated services is 5 years. At present 86% of all GP services would fall into this group which would leave CQC focussing their attentions more rigorously on the remaining 14%. This could result in enforcement action being more likely with CQC’s resources being more concentrated. It could also mean that the reliance on good or better GPs own data would increase and could lead to a culture whereby GPs are effectively self-governing their own quality.
GPs have voiced concerns that the revised CQC inspection schedule should see a reduction in fees charged to practices. GPs have historically been quite critical of the burden that CQC inspections can have on their ability to provide the highest level of service to their patients. This revised schedule could see CQC having less involvement with those practices that are rated highly but would see a greater focus on those rated requires improvement and inadequate.