The Deputy Inspector of General Practice has suggested that the Care Quality Commission may phone practices in future regarding concerns, as opposed to sending out inspectors.
Ruth Rankine indicated that this will form part of the CQC’s new approach from October next year.
It is hoped that all practices across the NHS system will have been inspected and rated by this date.
Commenting on the issue, Rankine indicated that the Care Quality Commission is comfortable with this new system, owing to the fact that GP practices have generally been rated as good or outstanding in the first round of CQC inspections.
Rankine was also pleased to know that even those practices ranked as inadequate have shown clear evidence of improvement.
A collaborative relationship and approach will be favoured in the future, and this will involve intelligence sharing in order to flag up potential difficulties.
Rankine told the Westminster Health Forum conference that this would be achieved via a new programme called ‘GP Insight’.
This is intended to be “a collation of the qualitative and quantitative information that we have around providers that will tell us on an ongoing basis about the quality of care being delivered. CQC will be monitoring that data on an ongoing basis, and we will be looking for any changes in those indicators that might signal that we might need to do something, or not”.
Rankine went on to explain the differences between the new approach and previous system.
“On the current system, if we were worried about something we would inspect [as] our first course of action’, in the new system the CQC may take a more laid-back approach. Actually our first course of action in the future might be a phone call to the practice, to understand what has happened, so that we are able to have some context to the change, and then from there we decide whether or not we need to take further action”.
Rankine also outlined some of the fiscal motivations for this shifting ethos.
“It is part of a more collaborative approach, working with providers to understand what is happening and where they may need support. As with any organisation in the public sector we have a decreasing budget so we need to think differently about how we do things and what we focus on. What will stay the same is we will still be a regulator and inspections will remain central to our assessment of quality”.
The news comes as the CQC is set to streamline its organisation by shedding 400 staff positions by 2020.