CQC launches Emergency Support Framework for general practice

20 May 2020

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has launched a new Emergency Support Framework (ESF) document, which is part of its regulatory approach during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CQC has made some changes to the way it works during the Coronavirus outbreak and the new ESF will involve CQC inspectors starting the process of calling GP practices to check in with them.

The CQC said a key part of the approach involves phone calls, in order to have open and honest conversations so that inspectors can support providers to resolve any issues and make tough decisions to help them keep people safe.

The conversations will help the CQC to understand and explore the stresses and challenges for providers and for the wider health and care system, and look at how services are using innovative ways to manage, so that learning can be shared.

The guidance said that services with a higher risk will be contacted first. They can also expect to have more contact from their inspector.

The purpose of the ESF is to provide a structured framework for these conversations, and will cover safe care and treatment; staffing arrangements; protection from abuse; and assurance processes, monitoring and risk management.

The CQC said the ESF is not a replacement for its inspection activity, which was paused in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will provide intelligence to help monitor risk, identify where providers may need extra support to respond to emerging issues, and ensure they are delivering safe care which protects people’s human rights.

It also helps the regulator's understanding of the impact of Coronavirus on staff and people using services, and where the CQC may need to follow up directly with an inspection, or escalate concerns to regional and national system partners where they are best placed to address.

The ESF will be applied sector by sector to all regulated health and social care services but will start to be used with General Practice from the 18 May. More information about what this will look like is available at: https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/how-we-inspect-regulate/emergency-support-framework-what-expect.