The CQC has said it will continue its current risk-based approach to GP practice inspections for another three months.
This will also apply to GP-led vaccination sites, it added.
At the start of the pandemic in March, the CQC announced it was pausing routine inspections.
But GP practices had been asked to welcome CQC inspectors again from 19 October, as the regulator set the start date for its ‘transitional’ regulatory approach based on ‘risk’.
And the CQC said in November that it may ‘separately’ inspect GP practices’ Covid vaccination sites that are not usually used to deliver services, such as sports venues.
In a letter to commissioners on Thursday (28 January), the regulator said that it would continue to be ‘flexible’ and ‘risk’-focussed over the next three months.
The letter, seen by Management in Practice’s sister title Pulse, said: ‘As we have now entered another period of increased pressure on health and social care services it is only right that CQC continues to be flexible in our approach.
‘In response to the very latest position, we want to be clear that for the time being, we will continue to only undertake inspection activity in response to a serious risk of harm or where it supports the system’s response to the pandemic.’
It added that this approach applies to Covid vaccination services and that the CQC will not ‘routinely’ monitor GP-led vaccine sites, unlike mass vaccination centres.
If an inspection is ‘necessary’, the CQC will carry out ‘as much activity off-site as possible’, it said.
Earlier in the summer, the CQC announced it was piloting a new model of checking up on practices ‘without crossing the threshold’.
The letter added that the CQC has also paused its programme of Provider Collaboration Reviews, which will restart ‘only when it is appropriate to do so’.
However, the regulator will continue to ‘monitor and review’ do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions taken during the pandemic, after finding evidence of ‘inappropriate’ decisions in December.
The CQC said it will ‘continue to adapt [its] approach and remain responsive as the situation changes’.
In November, the BMA wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock asking him to suspend ‘all but essential’ CQC inspections.
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.