CQC pauses routine inspections amid NHS pressures

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to pause some routine inspections of NHS acute services, GP practices and urgent care services planned for January in response to increased pressure on the NHS.

As services cope with additional demand, driven in part by a rise in respiratory illness and flu, the inspectorate has revealed that there will be a temporary pause in re-inspections of GP practices and urgent services, including NHS 111, GP out of hours and urgent care centres, that are rated good or outstanding where there is no information to indicate concerns about quality or safety.

Additionally, for the remainder of January, consideration will be given to rescheduling planned routine inspections of acute NHS trusts, based on individual trust circumstances.

Sir David Behan, chief executive of CQC, said: “The entire health and social care system is at full stretch – now an increase in respiratory illness and flu has further intensified this pressure. To support the system as much as possible, we are rescheduling some routine inspections of services. This is to allow frontline staff and leaders to focus on continuing to ensure that people receive safe, high-quality care during this period of increased demand.

"We will always act in the best interests of people who use services – so while it's appropriate to recognise the need for staff to focus on patient care at this particularly busy time, we must balance this with our responsibility to check that increased pressure doesn't result in deterioration in the quality of care. We will continue to monitor performance very closely and will act to protect people if necessary. It is important to reiterate that these pressures do not originate with and are not restricted to emergency departments, or to NHS acute trusts. As we set out in the interim findings from our first six local system reviews, this is a whole system issue, which demands a whole system response."