The CQC, which suspended inspections in mid-March in response to the Covid-19 emergency, will begin a process of checking in with GP practices in England from next week.
The regulator, which is referring to the process as the ’emergency support framework’, said the phone calls would be a ‘supportive’ bid to ‘capture and share concerns’ of GP practices.
The CQC stressed it was ‘not an inspection’ and would not result in any published report, or rating, of the GP practice in question.
In a blog published this evening, CQC chief inspector of primary medical services Dr Rosie Benneyworth said the framework would enable the CQC ‘to continue delivering our purpose during this period’ and ‘support the sector where it’s needed’.
The ‘regular conversations’ with CQC inspectors will focus on safe care and treatment; staffing arrangements; protection from abuse; and assurance processes, monitoring, and risk management, the CQC said.
‘The idea is for these conversations to be open and honest about the challenges you are facing and will enable us to support you to address these,’ said Dr Benneyworth, adding that phone calls would commence from 18 May.
Practices where there are concerns can expect to be targeted first, and Dr Benneyworth’s blog suggested this would be based on ‘feedback from the public and care staff, as well as whistleblowers’.
In an accompanying statement, Dr Benneyworth said: ‘Primary care services have undertaken an impressive transformation in light of the pandemic, adapting to a digital first approach and continuing to support the needs of people in the community.
‘As the health and social care system reaffirms that it is open for routine services as well as coronavirus care, it is vital that we understand what issues exist in local systems and could have an impact on people’s experiences of care, and on GPs’ ability to continue providing high quality services.
‘This supportive framework will help us to capture and share concerns of hardworking practice teams across England, as well as giving people using services important assurances around quality of care.’
The CQC’s suspension of GP practice inspections followed calls from the profession to offer respite while it was dealing with the onset of the pandemic, including from the BMA and RCGP.
At the end of March, the CQC announced it would move to a system of ‘remote’ monitoring of health and care services during the pandemic, and said it was working on an ‘interim methodology’.