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22nd February 2017

Risk Assessments – How do we create them…? Why do we need them…?

Some practices will undertake risk assessments annually, whilst some practices undertake them daily and/or monthly.

But why do we need to carry out risk assessments?

It certainly shouldn’t be to satisfy a CQC inspection; we need to carry out effective risk assessments because we have a duty of care to protect people to keep them safe and avoid accidents. By people, I’m not only referring to patients, but to all the people who come in to your practice on a daily basis such as staff, contractors etc.The higher risk people are, of course, your patients, as they will generally be at the practice as they are unwell or injured, so we need to ensure there are not any hazards in the practice that could cause a slip, a trip, a fall.

Cleaners - do they have risk assessments?

Think about the cleaners in your practice:

  • Do you employ your own?
  • Do you have any external contractors?
  • When do they come in to your practice to clean?
  • Are there any patients in the practice at the same time?
  • Does the cleaning company do their own risk assessments? If so, have you ever seen them?

Who is responsible for the cleaners’ risk assessments?

Are you responsible for ensuring the cleaners do their own risk assessments? In short, to best cover yourself, ensure that you carry out your own risk assessments for the cleaners, even if the external contractors have their own.

A good habit to get into is to see everything from the perspective of the people who you are targeting the risk assessment at; even down to the first language of the cleaners or other employees.  Notices, crib sheets, instructions and rules/guidance may be followed much more precisely by employees if they are printed in their first language. For example, I went into a practice where their cleaner (who could speak very little English) was working upstairs and had left the cleaning cupboard door wide open. There were patients downstairs who could have easily had access to this cupboard if they had chosen to. When the manager realised this, the practice immediately locked the cupboard door and printed off a crib sheet in the cleaner’s own language. The cleaning company was informed so that they could adapt similar practices to prevent this from happening again.

Daily practice walk around

Control the hazards in your practice by carrying out a daily walk-around and starting to build up a checklist.

  • State the day
  • Date
  • Tick box - no action
  • Comment box for action

If you are the responsible person, having a checklist means it can easily be passed on to someone else in your absence.

Whenever you take action to prevent a risk, consider putting up signs to prevent the situation from becoming an issue again. Simple, signed requests such as ‘please do not place boxes on top of this cupboard’ reminds staff of the issue and also shows clearly that you have undertaken a risk assessment in that area of the practice.

The HSE website has some useful risk assessments which you can use and adapt to your own practice needs.

You can download this for free here.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Michelle Broutta

GP Specialist

In December 2014, Michelle joined the Care Quality Commission as a Specialist Advisor (SpA), Practice Manager. Michelle works with the Inspection team and inspects primary medical services. To date, Michelle has inspected around 60 GP practices across the country.

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