New GP inspections will lead to ratings

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New style inspections of GP practices and out-of-hours services in England starting this month will lead to the first ever ratings of practices.

For the first time ever, there will be a clear way for the public and GPs to know which family doctors are providing great care, and which need to improve.
Inspections are being carried out by teams that include trained inspectors, GPs, nurses, practice managers and trained members of the public who have experience of care. Starting in October 2014, CQC expects to inspect approximately 8,000 GP practices across England.
GP practices will be rated as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate, giving members of the public clear information about how well their local GP practice is performing to help them make informed choices about their care. The first GP ratings are expected to be available from November and will be published on CQC’s web site.
As the new inspections begin, CQC has published a handbook that sets out clearly how GPs will be assessed and rated. The handbook helps providers understand exactly what inspectors will be looking for – and importantly how inspectors will determine the rating following an inspection.
The handbooks are the result of extensive consultation with the public, GPs and the organisations that represent them such as the BMA and RCGP. They also build on the experience gained through trial inspections using the new method.
Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice said: “The handbooks mark an important moment as we begin our new approach to inspecting general practice and in making sure people get good or outstanding services from their GP.

“Most GPs already provide really good services for their patients, but our inspections so far suggest that there is too much variation.  Our new style inspections will help to celebrate and promote good practice and ensure that GP practices in need of further support are identified so that they are able to meet the needs of their local communities.”

“We will inspect against what matters most to the people using GP services – asking whether practices are safe, caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs, and well-led.”

Notes to editors
New style inspections of GP practices focus on checking that surgeries are:
• Safe
• Effective
• Caring
• Responsive to people’s needs
• Well led

Inspections of GP practices will also look at how well services are provided for specific patient groups in the local population. We will check to make sure that the specific healthcare needs of these are met.  These groups are:
• Older people
• People with long term conditions
• Families, children and young people
• Working age people (including those recently retired and students)
• People whose circumstances may make them vulnerable
• People experiencing poor mental health (including people with dementia)

Testing for the new inspection method took place between April and September 2014, which involved the inspection of 336 GP practices across 24 CCG areas. We also inspected 42 GP out-of-hours services between January and September 2014. The learning from the test inspections and consultation feedback from stakeholders has fed into the design of the new inspection approach, and will published in a report at the end of October 2014 (tbc).

From 9 April to 4 June 2014, we consulted on our plans for regulating, inspecting and rating primary care services.  The detailed proposals set out in handbooks for providers of these services build on the principles described in our consultation, “consultation title”.

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