Are CQC Inspections Getting Tougher?
I’ve been looking at some recent CQC reports and it seems that the CQC inspection teams aren’t pulling any punches when it comes to feedback and reporting. This month, out of the 1,260 inspections, the CQC rated almost a third of those providers as ‘Requires improvement’, with Safe and Well-Led as the main Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE’s) where providers did not perform well.
What do the ratings mean?
There are only four CQC ratings given to health and social care services and, with no middle ground, perhaps ‘Requires improvement’ isn’t too bad for some providers? However, the CQC describes this rating as, ‘The service isn’t performing as well as it should and we have told the service how it must improve’, so I’m sure most of us are aiming for and hoping for a ‘Good’ rating – ‘The service is performing well and meeting our expectations’. With just 1% of providers rated as ‘Outstanding’ – ‘The service is performing exceptionally well’, I think those who have achieved it have actually done exceptionally well.
The CQC expect providers to make sure that services are safe but some inspections seem to show that although risks to patients who use services are assessed, often the risks were not consistently implemented well enough. For example, medicine fridge temperatures that were not being consistently checked, clinical training was not being monitored and when things went wrong, reviews and investigations were carried out but lessons learned were not communicated widely enough to support improvement.
Whilst Practices are praised for having a clear vision, strategy and a clear leadership structure, some Practices have not done well in this area because systems within the service were not being fully embedded. For instance, not consistently carrying out an annual infection control audit, not having a patient participation group (PPG) in place, not all staff having received a recent appraisal and no evidence of action to improve patient satisfaction, in relation to the national GP patient survey where the practice had performed below the local and national average in some areas.
There does seem to be an increase in Practices having to evidence improvements, but this may be because the inspection teams are familiar with the new current inspection regime and as a result are more thorough. I would suggest looking at the Summary of Findings page in recent reports and creating your own checklist against it to make sure you’ve achieved the requirements the CQC have highlighted or are working towards, and then you can evidence that you are also doing the same. Using the QCS Management System will help you to achieve the requirements.
Alison Lowerson – QCS Expert GP Practice Manager Contributor