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CQC: practices ‘will not need consultants’

13 October 2011

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Practice managers should not need to hire outside consultants to help them comply with Care Quality Commission (CQC) registration requirements, a senior CQC official has said.

GMS practices and all primary care providers will need to register with the CQC from April 2013. Out-of-hours GP providers and walk-in centres need to register a year earlier.

Fears of a burdensome volume of administrative and compliance work have meant that many practices have sought assistance from fee-charging consultancy providers.

But Victoria Howes, GP Registration Design Team Leader at the CQC, told Management in Practice the regulator believes this will not be necessary as the process would be simplified.

“Practices that are already delivering a good service will be absolutely fine,” she said. “They shouldn’t need to hire external consultants.”

The BMA’s GPs’ Committee (GPC) has previously urged practices not to spend money on consultancy services before details of the registration had been announced.

In July, Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC Chair, told MiP: “I suggest practice managers do absolutely nothing and in particular I suggest they don’t spend money getting outside consultants to advise them on how to comply.

“What was very sad was for us to advise GPs not to do this and then find that loads of practice managers have been told to sign up by PCTs”.

Originally, all practices were required to register by April 2012, but this was delayed due to workload concerns. Dentists, who had to register by April of this year, have criticised the process, with the British Dental Association describing registration as a “fiasco that seems to lurch from one crisis to another”.

But Howes said the delay for GP registration would allow the regulator to “get to grips with the sector” and make the process as stress-free for practice professionals as possible.

“We want to make it work, we want to give as much guidance and help to practices as we can,” she said.

Many older GP surgery buildings do not facilitate compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) – this has led to fears of non-compliance with the CQC.

However, Howes said that this was unlikely to be a significant barrier to successful registration, as practices will be able to declare non-compliance in this area.

“As long as you can produce an action plan to say how you will manage the risks, this will be fine,” she said.

Last week the CQC spoke to a focus group of practice managers that discussed issues including the phrasing of questions in the registration document. The regulator aims to produce tools and guidance for the profession at a later date.

Practices will be invited to submit registration documents to the CQC from September 2012.

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“It is not helpful for the CQC to appear to downplay the substantial amount of work that practices will need to do in order to achieve CQC compliance. Whilst it is certainly true that almost all practices will eventually be able to achieve CQC registration by April 2013, there will be a requirement to indicate compliance or non-compliance with the CQC standards as part of the application. This itself will be a major task, and any areas of non-compliance will need to have corresponding Action Plans drawn up. This will also be new territory for many practices that are not accustomed to an external inspector (with substantial “teeth”) being able to drop in announced, and for reports and any shortfalls uncovered to be available in the public domain. Even before the CQC application form is completed (which should be the “easy bit” of the process), practices will need to be trained in what legal obligations they have and also make a number of decisions as follows:

  • Decide Who Is “The Applicant”
  • Decide What Services Are To be Registered?
  • Decide What Comprises “The Practice”
  • Decide Your Registered Manager(s)
  • Draft A “Statement Of Purpose”
  • Ensure Compliance With CQC “Essential Standards”
  • Decide Your “Service Types”
  • Ensure Practice CRB Checks Are Up-To-Date
  • Complete A Risk Assessment
  • Develop a project plan
  • Budget for costs for the CQC
  • Carry out any necessary training
  • Start to prepare evidence for CQC inspections, etc.

So, irrespective of whether external help is needed, all Practices will need to start this process of preparing for the CQC application sooner rather than later. And if a particular practice feels that they need to supplement their work by specialist assistance in order to focus their energies and save time, then so be it” – Richard Banyard, Yorkshire

“It will depend on how the original registration process is amended. Tools and guidance ‘at a later date’ is a fat lot of use if that doesn’t appear in time to plan the additional workload so that we are ready by April 2013” – Name and address withheld

“Maybe not additional “expert” help – but it will undoubtedly require extra resources to gather evidence, formulate plans and policies where they do not already exist” – Julie Moore, Worcestershire