An inspector calls

Careful preparation reaps rewards when the CQC inspectors pay a visit, says Cate Leighton

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) exists to help us deliver high standards and highlight where we might need to improve. It is not there to scare us. Its inspections should not be seen as a time of trepidation and panic, but an opportunity for physiotherapy services to demonstrate their innovations and the impact their genius has on patient care. The CQC is part of our system to ensure that organisations hit the target but don’t miss the point.

On inspection day, how do you secure an audience with these all-seeing eyes? Remember that they, too, will have a timetable and a reason for visiting. Is it a planned visit or a spot check? Planned visits are easier and organisations will prepare for them so get involved in that.

It could be an incredible opportunity to show what your services achieve daily. You will have access to those who can remove barriers, so use that time wisely to engage and influence. It could mean your organisation automatically adds you to the inspectors’ timetable. 

The CQC will often ask for a meeting with certain staffing groups, but if yours is not in there, ask for one. Be proactive and so that physiotherapy can be represented. Be articulate, be honest, show your brilliance at excellent patient care and the impact you have within your organisation. Equally, be brave – this is not a whinge fest – but use the time to highlight where you think you can develop services in a constructive and objective manner. Listen to feedback openly. Learn. What have they seen that you could improve on?

With spot checks, approach the inspectors. Be bold, but polite, and invite them to view a treatment session or to discuss a quality improvement that has been successful. More importantly, don’t be despondent if they decline – remember their timetable and ask when a discussion would be possible. Physiotherapy is everywhere in an organisation, meaning the more physiotherapists who engage with them the more you will be remembered, so don’t assume a colleague will have spoken to them. Step up and shine.

  • Cate Leighton is Portsmouth Hospitals Trust therapy services lead and a member of the CSP South Central regional network core team


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