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What we will inspect: types of inspection (GP practices)

  • Organisations we regulate

Information from our monitoring activity helps to determine the type of inspection and what we will look at.

Types of inspection


We will carry out more focused inspections. This means we will not always consider all five key questions on each inspection.

Focused inspections enable us to follow up any potential changes in the quality of care that our monitoring activity has highlighted. These inspections only focus on certain key questions to explore particular aspects of care.

We will carry out more focused inspections for providers rated as good and outstanding overall: this means we will not always consider all five key questions on each inspection.

However, we will always inspect the effective and well-led key questions as a minimum. In some inspections, we may also inspect the safe, caring and/or responsive key questions if the information we have suggests that the quality of care has changed since the previous inspection. When we announce the inspection we will tell you what the focus of the inspection will be. We may change that focus if additional risks emerge during the inspection.

Focused inspections can change an overall rating at any time, using key question ratings from the focused inspection as well as the remaining key question ratings from the last inspection.

In some circumstances, we may carry out a comprehensive inspection of a practice rated as good or outstanding. We may do this, for example, where significant concerns arise or there have been significant changes to the quality of care provided.


Comprehensive inspections address all five key questions, and ask is the service safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led? We will always carry out a comprehensive inspection of services that we have not yet inspected, or if a service has an overall rating of inadequate or requires improvement.

Follow up

We will inspect when we need to follow up on an area of concern. This could be a concern identified during an inspection that has resulted in enforcement action, or concerns that the public, staff or other stakeholders have raised with us.

These inspections do not usually look at all five key questions. They usually focus only on specific areas indicated by the information that triggers the inspection. Follow up inspections may be unannounced.

Inspecting GP practices who are working at scale

We recognise that many GP practices are collaborating with other organisations in formal and informal ways. We are developing and testing our approach to inspecting to make sure services provide high-quality care, and that leadership and governance at all levels support this. Our strengthened relationship management and monitoring will help us to understand where collaboration is happening and how this will affect what we inspect. We will reflect any collaborative working in your inspection report.

If your practice is rated as good or outstanding, we will ask you for some contextual information about your links to other practices, federations or networks when we arrange the telephone call to carry out the provider information collection.

Inspecting complex providers

If you deliver services across more than one sector, we try to align our inspections to be more efficient and to make the process simpler for you. For example, some organisations may provide a combination of primary health care services, acute hospital services, mental health care, community health services and ambulance services, and may also run care homes. We will use teams of specialists to inspect each of these services. Also read how we rate services.

Last updated:
29 September 2021