The health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has stopped routine inspections due to COVID-19.
The Commission has stated that during the COVID-19 outbreak, the CQC’s primary objective will be to support providers to keep people safe during a period of unprecedented pressure on the health and care system.
Ian Trenholm, chief executive of CQC, said: “During this period, our priority will be to support those who deliver health and social care to keep people safe during this global health emergency. We will therefore be stopping routine inspections from today. It may still be necessary to use our inspection powers in a very small number of cases when there is clear evidence of harm, such as allegations of abuse.
"In adult social care, our inspectors will also be acting as a support for registered managers, providing advice and guidance throughout this period in the absence of a single national body equivalent to NHS England. We are talking to social care providers about how to most effectively collect information from them to ensure that the Government has a clear picture of the impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector.”
Other support that CQC is offering the system includes the return of clinically qualified CQC special advisors to the frontline to help with the wider national response; secondments of staff to DHSC, Public Health England and NHS England.
From next week, the CQC’s contact centre expects to start taking non-clinical COVID-19 calls in support of 111.
The watchdog has written to all registered health and social care providers about how it will adapt its regulatory approach in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
- stopping routine inspections
- a shift towards other, remote methods to give assurance of safety and quality of care
- some inspection activity in a small number of cases, for example where there are allegations of abuse
- giving extra support to registered managers in adult social care
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "Covid-19 is set to test the NHS for weeks and months to come and GPs and our teams will increasingly be at the forefront of tackling it, but we are already a profession under pressure and we will need to start doing some things differently.
"We need to think seriously about what tasks to prioritise over others, and what we can stop doing while we focus on patients who have or who are worried about Covid-19 – and it is right that these conversations start with our more administrative and bureaucratic duties.
"The College has been calling for a suspension of routine CQC inspections of general practice as preparing for these can be a huge amount of work for GPs and our teams and we are pleased that the CQC has taken heed of this.
"This is a sensible place to start in freeing up time and capacity in general practice to deliver patient care."