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Site visits: primary care dental services

  • Organisations we regulate,
  • Dental service

Site visits give us an opportunity to talk to people using your services, your staff and other professionals, to find out about their experiences.

They allow us to review how you deliver care and to see how people’s needs are identified and managed, both within and between services.

For announced inspections, the lead inspector will contact you in advance to make any necessary logistical arrangements and to ensure that you are prepared for the visit. An inspection of a dental practice usually lasts for one day.

The start of the visit

At the start of each inspection the inspector will meet with your registered manager. If the registered manager is not available the inspector can meet with another senior member of staff, for example a partner. This short introductory session will introduce the inspection team and explain:

  • the scope and purpose of the inspection, including CQC’s powers
  • the plan for the day
  • how we will escalate any concerns that we identify during the inspection
  • how we will communicate our findings

We will ask you to present to the inspection team your own view of your practice’s performance, particularly in relation to the five key questions and to include any examples of notable practice. There is no specified format or media for this briefing – you can choose whichever format suits you best. This should take no longer than 20 minutes.

We want you to be open and share your views with us about where you are providing care that you are proud of, and what you are doing to improve in areas that you have identified need particular attention.

The inspection team will review the emerging findings together at least once during the inspection. This keeps the team up-to-date with all issues and allows them to shift the focus of the inspection if they identify new areas of interest. It also enables the team to identify which further evidence they might need in relation to a line of enquiry and what relevant facts they might still need to support a judgement.

Gathering evidence during the site visit

To structure the site visit, the inspection team refers to the key lines of enquiry (KLOEs) in the assessment framework for healthcare services. They also look at any concerns identified beforehand through our monitoring activity. This enables them to focus on specific areas of concern or potential areas of notable practice. They collect evidence against the KLOEs using a variety of methods.

People who use services

We will gather the views of your patients, their family and carers, by:

  • speaking with them individually
  • using information from complaints and concerns sent through our website

We will also send you:

  • posters to publicise the inspection and give people the opportunity to speak to the inspection team
  • comment cards for people to fill in

We ask you to display these in a prominent position at reception and in other busy areas.

Your staff

On all inspections, we are likely to speak to the following members of staff:

  • practice manager/registered manager
  • receptionists
  • dental care professionals, including individual dentists
  • dental nurses

For larger providers, the inspection team may also hold focus groups with separate groups of staff.

The inspection team will offer to talk to current and former whistleblowers during the inspection period. This may be during the site visit to the practice or by telephone.

Gathering information in other ways

We may also gather information by:

  • reviewing parts of dental records to support our findings
  • reviewing operational policies and supporting documents
  • observing processes such as decontamination
  • looking at the premises and facilities

Feedback on the visit

At the end of the inspection visit, the lead inspector will meet with your registered manager to provide feedback. This is high level initial feedback only, illustrated with some examples.

At the meeting, the inspector will:

  • thank you for your support and contribution and tell you about any issues that were escalated during the visit or that require immediate action
  • tell you if we need additional evidence or if we need to seek further specialist advice in order to make a judgement
  • tell you about any plans for follow-up or additional visits (unless they are unannounced)
  • explain how we will make judgements against the regulations
  • explain the next steps, including how we process the draft inspection report
  • answer any questions from the practice

We will need to carry out further analysis of the evidence as well as undertake several internal quality assurance processes before we can reach final judgements on all the issues.

Last updated:
17 April 2018


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