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CQC may arrange a visit to inspect registered primary care providers at any time. The frequency of inspections will vary.
Before an inspection you will have been asked for information by CQC. The documentation typically requested includes summaries of complaints and adverse events, evidence of how you monitor quality of treatment, including patient surveys and staff recruitment and training policies. Provide the information promptly (within five working days, or 10 working days for a GP out-of-hours service). Do your homework - it's likely that questions may be asked that relate to this documentation on the day of the inspection.
CQC's lead inspector will contact you to introduce themselves and explain the agenda for the day and discuss the practicalities, such as allowing staff time for interviews and ensuring there is an area set aside for inspectors to use.
Before the inspection, you will also be sent comment cards for patients to complete and posters to display in your reception/waiting room. This will advertise the inspection and give patients the opportunity to contact CQC directly.
It makes sense to prepare for the inspectors' initial interview where you will be asked to say what makes your practice outstanding. This includes examples of how you have improved patient outcomes and experience.
This is an opportunity to talk about the excellent care and service you provide to patients. Set aside any modesty and be ready to identify and speak about what makes your practice excellent, and makes it stand out from the crowd. The inspection team will be keen to hear about excellence, so prepare thoroughly for this part of the interview.
Be realistic about any particular challenges your practice is facing. It's better to be prepared for questioning and ready to talk about the steps you're taking to address concerns. CQC has said it will judge practices and GP out-of-hours services more harshly if it finds they have not been open about issues of concern and this will affect their rating.
Inspectors will want to speak to GP partners, locums, trainees, practice managers, nurses, healthcare assistants and administrative staff, so we advise you to ensure all practice staff are up to date with relevant practice protocols and understand what the inspection entails.
Consider setting aside a training session where staff are put through mock interviews so that the real thing will not come as too much of a surprise.
It's also important to know how to access material that might be requested by inspectors as evidence, such as audits, written procedures and patient records (CQC is entitled to review records under section 63(2)(b) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008). We have guidance on disclosing confidential information to CQC.
CQC has produced a quick guide to help practices understand what to expect from an inspection, covering general preparation, what happens on the day and afterwards. More detailed guidance on preparation and visits can be found in the CQC's guidance for providers.