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Preparing for your CQC inspection
The CQC are finally beginning to inspect dental practices in considerable numbers, but concerns have already been raised about the notice given for inspections and also what the CQC inspector is coming to check.
Some sources have recorded less than a week’s notice being provided for the inspection, whilst one practice is reported as having had no notice at all! All of this emphasises the importance of being prepared for the inevitable questions that will be asked when they turn up.
As is widely known there are 28 Essential Standards of Quality and Safety, but only 16 of them are described as key standards which must be achieved right now. These Standards have associated Outcomes which are checked by the CQC in their entirety, or selectively during inspections. What is alarming is that anecdotal evidence suggests that some inspectors are actually looking for evidence of compliance against any of the 28 standards, as opposed to just the key 16. This is a matter which needs to be addressed directly by the CQC as it will lead to confusion and uncertainty in what should be occurring during inspections.
One of the first things which must be done prior to preparing for an inspection is to become familiar with the Essential Standards and the CQC Outcomes, so that you understand the framework of what they will be looking for during inspections. This is easily achieved and should have been looked through as part of the registration process. Next is to check and see what policies and procedures you have in place to ensure that the Outcomes are being met. The CQC inspector will almost certainly ask to see your procedures as this can be provided as evidence that you are indeed meeting the required Outcomes, but you must also demonstrate that you are putting such policies into effect. The final area to look at is actual practices in operation; they may for example ask to view a decontamination exercise to see if the right equipment is being used and that it is being carried out in the correct manner.
CQC inspectors may decide to spend time talking with staff and even patients, so it’s very important to ensure that with the former they are involved in the whole process and are aware of your compliance responsibilities. Each individual within a practice is required to ensure that they meet the Essential Standards. With patients you need to think about clarity of communication and how as the service user they are put at the heart of your business. One example could be a discussion about fees. The CQC may want to speak to patients about fees to ensure that they are aware of what is covered, the treatment costs, payment terms etc.
With many years of guiding the adult social care and healthcare professions through CQC inspections, QCS has designed a Mock Inspection Toolkit which dental practices can use to help them get prepared for the inevitable inspection. There isn’t really a better approach to being prepared, than to carry out a mock inspection and to gauge the extent of your compliance. Time should be invested in ensuring that not only are your policies comprehensive, but also that all staff are aware of their compliance related responsibilities and that shortcomings are addressed as a matter of priority.