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When we will inspect online primary care services

  • Organisations we regulate

If you are registering as a new provider of online primary care, we will normally aim to inspect within three 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.

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 an announced inspection, 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:

  • details about the services you provide, including the websites through which you deliver regulated activities, and any other companies and websites providing services that you are affiliated with
  • the results of any patient feedback survey and other feedback from patients, and how you have used these findings to improve your services
  • a summary of any complaints received and serious adverse events in the last 12 months, any action you have taken and how you implemented the learning
  • evidence of how you monitor the quality of your services and examples of quality improvement activity, including clinical audit
  • the number of consultations in the last 12 months, a list of medicines prescribed and their volumes
  • the templates used when assessing or consulting with patients
  • a description of how your service supports clinical staff to work in line with professional guidance

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.

We may also ask you to use your existing electronic communication channels (email, SMS text, social media) to tell your patients that you are due to be inspected, and to encourage them to give feedback on their care on the web or by phone.

Last updated:
29 October 2019