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CQC to only inspect GPs if ‘there is a high risk of harm’ amid winter pressures

by Anna Colivicchi
30 January 2023

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The CQC has unveiled details of its reduced inspections of GP practices, so that NHS staff can ‘focus on delivering for patients.’

At the beginning of the month, health secretary Steve Barclay confirmed steps the Government is taking to ensure the NHS has the support it needs to tackle ‘increased pressures’, including a reduction in CQC inspections for GPs.

Now the commission has confirmed that it will ‘respond to only the most serious risks where there is a high risk of harm to people.’

It said it will ‘identify this risk through data,’ information of concern inspectors receive and intelligence they share with NHS England.

The decision to inspect during this time will be made at the highest level by the CQC’s Chief Inspector.

The commission will also pause some previously planned inspections of GP providers. It said that in most cases these inspections will have been planned because their monitoring data does not reflect the most up-to-date view of the quality of care being provided alongside a potential risk due to the length of time between inspections.

The CQC will also pause its monitoring calls with GP providers, other than ‘in situations of the highest risk.’

The measures will be in place until the end of March for GP providers including NHS and independent sector providers working with the NHS, out-of-hours, NHS 111and urgent care services.

A spokesperson for the commission said: ‘It is a winter quite unlike any other. Health and social care staff have been working tirelessly to provide safe, high-quality care in the face of existing pressures.

‘As a responsive regulator, we must continue to work with health and care providers to fulfil our role, while appreciating the context providers are working in.

‘We will always act in the best interests of people who use services – so while it’s appropriate to recognise the need for providers to focus on delivering care, we will always balance this with our responsibility to check that the safety of people using services is maintained.’

For hospitals, the commission said it will respond to ‘only the most serious risks’ in NHS organisations where ‘there is a high risk of harm to people.’ This includes in NHS acute hospitals, ambulance, community health and NHS 111 services.

Dental, mental health, adult and social care, and other primary medical services will continue to be inspected as planned.

A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse.