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When we will inspect independent doctors and clinics

  • Organisations we regulate

If you are registering with CQC as a new provider, we will normally aim to inspect within 12 months of registration.

You will receive your initial rating at this inspection. We will use your initial rating to determine when next to inspect your service.

For all subsequent inspections, the maximum intervals for re-inspecting depend on your rating as follows:

Previous overall rating Maximum interval between inspection
Inadequate Normally within six months of publishing the last comprehensive inspection report
Requires improvement Normally within 12 months of publishing the last comprehensive inspection report
Good or outstanding Depending on the level of risk, at least one inspection within five years of publishing the last comprehensive inspection report

These are the maximum inspection intervals; therefore, we may inspect more frequently if we identify a risk or if our monitoring information indicates a potential improvement or deterioration in the quality of care. This flexible approach reflects CQC’s commitment to deliver an intelligence-driven approach to regulation.

Every year, we will inspect a proportion of services that are rated as good or outstanding. This is to make sure that they are all inspected at least once every five years. We may also inspect any service at any time, irrespective of its rating, for example when:

  • our monitoring information indicates a potential improvement or deterioration in the quality of care
  • a provider is part of a larger or complex provider, and we are coordinating an inspection alongside our hospital and adult social care inspection teams
  • we are carrying out a review of care services in a local area

Announced inspections

Inspections are normally announced. We feel this is the most appropriate way to make sure that our inspections do not disrupt the care you provide.

When we announce inspections, we will usually give you two weeks’ notice. The inspector will telephone you to announce the inspection and send a letter to confirm the date. Throughout the inspection process, the lead inspector will support and communicate with you by letter, email or telephone to help you to prepare for the day so that you know what to expect.

Unannounced inspections

We may also carry out an unannounced inspection, for example if we have concerns about a service or if we are responding to a specific issue or concern. This may be something identified at a previous inspection that we are following up, or new information.

At the start of all inspection visits, the inspection team will meet with your registered manager. If the registered manager is not available the inspector will meet with the most senior member of staff on duty, and will feed back to them at the end of the inspection if there are any immediate concerns.

Pre-inspection provider information request

Before we inspect, we will ask you for information that will help us to prepare for our inspection and understand more about the care and the service you provide.

For example, this may include:

  • information about your patients and people who use your services
  • details of your staff, including numbers of staff by role and hours worked
  • details of significant events and serious incidents reported, including the actions you have taken
  • for private GP services we may consider evidence and examples of how you have provided care for specific population groups
  • evidence to show how you have monitored the quality of treatment and services, including details of completed clinical audit cycles with evidence of actions taken as a result and outcomes achieved
  • evidence of how you have addressed the findings from patient feedback
  • a summary of complaints received, with details of actions you have taken and any improvements made
  • policies, procedures and other documentation

We may ask for other information depending on what data is available to us.

You will have five working days to respond to our request. We will tell you what information to send, where to send it and who to contact if you have any questions.

Last updated:
20 October 2020