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17th October 2014

The 5 CQC Standards You Must Know & Key Questions Asked

Guidance about compliance with the essential CQC 5 standards. What are the 5 key CQC domains? Read this document to find out how to best comply to the standards for your next inspection.

Updated: 10th May 2020

Under the new approach, CQC inspectors will make their judgement on providers by assessing services against five key questions: Are they safe? Are they effective? Are they caring? Are they responsive to people’s needs? Are they well-led?

In this article we have outlines the key mistakes to avoid and five key things needed to achieve the new ‘Outstanding’ rating when it comes to preparing for CQC inspections.

What are the CQC 5 Standards?

To place the people who use services at the heart of planning for their care and support, the CQC focus their inspections on the quality and safety of services, based on the things that matter to people. They ask five key questions about the service. These are:

  • Are they safe? Safe: you are protected from abuse and avoidable harm.
  • Are they effective? Effective: you care, treatment and support achieve good outcomes, helps you to maintain quality of life and Is based on the best available evidence.
  • Are they caring? Caring: staff Involve and treat you with compassion, kindness, dignity, and respect.
  • Are they responsive to people's needs? Responsive: services are organised so that they meet your needs.
  • Are they well led? Well-led: the leadership, management, and governance of the organisation make sure It's providing high-quality care that's based around your Individual needs, that It encourages learning and innovation, and that It promotes and open and fair culture.

Mistakes to avoid when following these standards

It may be clear for many what we should and shouldn’t be doing, but here are the top five standards that CQC will pick up on if they’re not met:

  • Not having robust systems in place for ensuring that prescriptions are produced and signed in accordance with the current regulations. Not having safe recruitment procedures in line with the national policy on criminal record checks
  • Not having adequate risk assessments to ensure patient safety
  • Not having a robust complaint reporting procedure and evidence of actions taken to improve patient care
  • Not having adequate staff supervision and training to ensure they are always equipped to meet patient's needs

5 ways to evidence ‘Outstanding’ service

The new inspection regime, started on 1st October 2014, has highlighted both ‘Outstanding’ and ‘Poor’ services from healthcare providers. Here are some tips based on the five key questions:

  1. Safe – ensure incident reporting (significant events and serious untoward incidents) is embraced by staff throughout the practice. Demonstrate the continuous improvement, culture and accountability amongst all staff groups through regular review meetings. Have systems in place for robust monitoring of cleanliness and infection control to ensure standards are being met.
  2. Effective – carry out regular audits to evidence a commitment to continuously improving outcomes for patients. Guidelines and polices should include evidence-based guidance and national recommendations e.g. from NICE. Participate in multidisciplinary meetings with a clear commitment to working collaboratively to improve care through innovations, improvements in pathways, improvements in teamwork and more efficient ways of working.
  3. Caring – empower patients to be part of their ongoing care. Actively seek their views and feedback to evidence specific outstanding services that you provide, e.g. enhanced services. Create a culture of innovative approach to meeting patients’ individual needs, particularly for different and vulnerable groups of people that use your services. Particular patient groups include:
  • Older people
  • People with long-term conditions
  • Families, children & young people
  • Working age people, those recently retired and students
  • People living in vulnerable circumstances
  • People experiencing poor  mental health  (including those with dementia)
  1. Responsive – when considering the development of services, ensure individual patients’ needs are considered. Actively seek their views and engage with them on a regular basis through patient participation meetings.
  2. Well-led – provide strong leadership to ensure a sense of mutual support and passion to deliver patient-centred care amongst all staff groups, at all levels, through regular practice meetings & internal communication streams. Engage staff in decision making. Provide evidence of low staff turnover and continuous staff feedback, e.g. staff appraisals & exit interviews.

Need help adhering to the CQC Standards?

We believe that communication is key to meeting the new CQC inspection standards. With this in mind:

  • Outline your aims
  • Publish the information, plans and proposals to staff and patients
  • Actively seek feedback
  • Analyse the feedback
  • Change, improve or develop the service
  • Repeat the process

Contact us

For more information on the information above, contact us. Simply fill in the form and someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Nigel Sparrow is the CQC's Senior National GP Advisor. See his ‘Mythbusters’ which clears up some common myths about the CQC’s inspections of GP practices.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Alison Lowerson

GP Specialist

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