Last reviewed 9 February 2021

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced it will continue the current risk-based approach to GP practice and GP-led vaccination site inspections for another three months.

In March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, the CQC decided to pause the routine inspection programme, although it added that it “may be necessary to still use some of our inspection powers in a very small number of cases when we have clear reports of harm”.

From 19 October 2020, the CQC started its “transitional” regulatory approach based on risk and asked practices to welcome back inspectors, which may or may not result in a new rating of the service.

In a recent letter to commissioners, the CQC said it would continue to be flexible and risk-focused over the next three months. Reported by Pulse magazine, the letter said: “In response to the very latest position, we want to be clear that for the time being, we will continue to only undertake inspection activity in response to a serious risk of harm or where it supports the system’s response to the pandemic.”

The CQC confirmed it will not “routinely” monitor GP-led vaccine sites, unlike its approach to mass vaccination centres. It said if an inspection was necessary, the CQC would carry out “as much activity off-site as possible”.

The CQC said it will continue to monitor and review do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions taken during the pandemic, after finding evidence of ‘inappropriate’ decisions in December.

It said it will continue to adapt its approach and remain responsive as the situation with the pandemic changes.

Going forward, the CQC has launched its consultation, Consultation on Changes for More Flexible and Responsive Regulation, which closes on 23 March 2021 and is available here.

To meet its statutory duties under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 the CQC said it will still publish a statement that explains how it will assess the performance of health and care service providers. However, the CQC said there will be fewer large-scale formal consultations but more on-going opportunities to contribute as it will engage in different ways: "Importantly, it will mean we’ll spend less time planning for formal consultations and more time listening to you”.

Where the CQC needs to consult on areas under section 46 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, the consultations will be more targeted and responsive.

The regulator is also consulting on its new strategy and ambitions for 2021 and beyond, so that it can better regulate and support services to keep people safe. Four themes published in the draft strategy cover people and communities; smarter regulation; safety through learning; and accelerating improvement. This consultation is open from 7 January to 4 March 2021 and is available at: https://cqc.citizenlab.co/en-GB/folders/strategy-2021-share-your-views