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CQC pledges ‘supportive but vigilant’ approach to general practice regulation

19 October 2020

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The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new transitional regulatory approach will be ‘supportive’ and constructive in helping practices to improve services, the regulator has pledged. 

Speaking at a press briefing last week (15 October) Professor Ted Baker, CQC chief inspector of hospitals, said healthcare providers in other sectors – where the approach has already been implemented – have found it to be ‘really helpful’ and ‘did not see it as heavy-handed regulation’.

He added that despite taking a supportive approach, the regulator will ‘remain vigilant for poor care, and will take action if necessary’. 

Mr Baker was speaking ahead of the publication of the CQC’s annual State of Care report (16 October), which found that almost nine in 10 (89%) GP practices received a ‘good’ rating in 2019/20, while 5% were awarded ‘outstanding’.

He said that the  new regulatory system for general practice, which comes into force today (19 October), will be ‘much more risk based’, as visits will be targeted to providers where the CQC has remotely identified concerns about care quality.

Professor Baker told Management in Practice: ‘We have learned a lot, ourselves, during the pandemic, and we are moving in the direction we wanted to move in anyway, but perhaps at a faster pace, as Covid has driven that change. 

‘Our transitional approach is going to be much more risk-based, with more supportive monitoring of providers, because we have heard what they have told us about this, and the feedback we have had so far from NHS leaders has been very positive.’

He added: ‘Feedback from the work we did with NHS trusts on infection control shows they found it really helpful, because we put them in contact with the support they needed to improve their services. They did not see it as heavy-handed regulation, they saw it as a supportive regulatory approach. Going forward that is very much the direction of travel.’

Last month, the CQC announced it will be able to re-rate services following an inspection, under the new approach, ‘in a limited number of cases’, but that this would vary between different sectors. It added that ‘no further action’ would be taken against providers where inspectors determine the care given presents a ‘low level of risk’ to patients. 

In August, Ian Trenholm, CQC chief executive, said the regulator is developing a new strategy to launch in May 2021, which will reflect new ways of working that have emerged within health and social care during the pandemic, with a full public consultation scheduled for January 2021.

The CQC spoke more about the report at the Management in Practice Virtual event on 20 October. To watch, please register here