CQC practice inspections – what to expect
At the first point of contact, your local inspector will contact your practice’s registered manager and will give some dates when they would like to come in, with at least 48 hours’ notice if at all possible. Inspectors may then run through the Outcomes they will assess, though this is not always the case. Every inspector is different, so don’t be alarmed if all you receive is a quick phone call with just the time and date.
When your inspection date comes around, it’s important that the registered manager is on-site for the duration. Visits will generally take anything between 2 to 5 hours, so make sure you are prepared for a lengthy visit. At the time of arranging the inspection date, don’t be afraid to ask the inspector if they can anticipate how long their visit will be. This is fully within your rights, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
As the central objective to your first CQC inspection, your inspector will aim to confirm that everything you have legally declared on your initial application forms and compliance statements is correct and has been put into place. They will also want to come in to assess between 2 to 6 Outcomes from the Essential Standards. Primarily the focus here will be on Outcomes that involve patients, with commonly assessed Outcomes including 1 and 2 as well as 4, 7 and 8. You should also bear in mind that many Outcomes overlap, such as staff training for example, as well as the likes of record keeping.
In terms of the actual inspection itself, all inspectors work in different ways. Some will prefer to go through your paperwork at the start and then leave questions to the end, while others will like to do a full walk around your practice before checking your supporting evidence. Remember that the inspector will certainly want to question other 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.
To make the most out of your CQC inspection you really should aim to treat it as a positive experience. Make sure staff members are aware of who’s coming into see them, why, and what kinds of questions they could be asked. You should also make sure all your documentation is organised in a logical order and is ready to present on request. CQC inspectors really don’t want to have to go round hunting for bits of paper and supporting evidence on the day, as that will clearly demonstrate that you don’t have a suitable system in place. If you’ve already been submitting evidence for QOF inspection, then you really 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.
A really useful tip you can adopt here is when the inspector comes in to look at confidential data, you should always make a request that they sign a third party confidentiality agreement. The inspector may refuse, however this will show the inspector that you are adopting a proactive approach to protecting information that applies to everyone who visits your practice – even CQC inspectors themselves!
Once your inspection has been completed, you can expect to receive a draft report within a few weeks. You will then have 10 days in which to contest the factual accuracy of the draft report, and are encouraged to contest anything you may be unsure of. If you accept the report then the report 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 have 14 days to submit a ‘SMART’ action plan. This is an action plan that is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. It really is very important that you submit this action plan within the timeframe allocated, and is equally important that once you’ve done this, you then implement it. The CQC do randomly spot check, and will of course check on next inspection that your action plan has been put in place.
While there are certainly a great many things to take into consideration when preparing for CQC inspection, there are of course many different companies out there who may be able to help, whether it be reading over draft reports, preparing action plans or performing mock inspections. Whether you decide to call in support, or you’re comfortable facing inspection on your own, remember that whatever you decide, good preparation and a positive attitude are absolutely key.