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Yes, you can challenge the findings of a CQC inspection

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Whenever you take pretty much any exam or test and don't agree with the result, you can challenge it. So it is with a CQC Inspection. There are time limits on when the challenge can be made, and also certain criteria for the challenge to be valid (though it won't necessarily be upheld). In this blog, I'm going to look at when you can challenge the findings of a CQC inspection and under what criteria you can make such a challenge.

When can a challenge be made?

The CQC isn't a secret squirrel society that comes in, digs around, and then lets everybody in on what they've found at the same time and through very public channels. Once they have been and inspected your practice, they will compile a draft report and send it to you.

You have ten days from the time you receive the draft report in which to refute any of the content included or judgements made in the report. If there are items with which you disagree, then you'll need to state your case and provide evidence that you believe should be taken into consideration and which would, in your estimation, affect the judgements made.

What can be challenged?

When the draft report has been received, you can challenge on the basis of ‘factual accuracy'. It may be, for example, that you don't believe all the relevant facts pertaining to the judgement have been collected, considered, or collated by the CQC.

If you wish to make such a challenge, then you'll need to comment and supply evidence that backs your concerns. The factors that the CQC will consider are:

  • Typographical or numerical errors
  • Information that the GP practice considers to be factually incorrect or inaccurate
  • Information that the GP practice considers to be incomplete

What must you submit to support your challenge?

When making the challenge, you'll need to supply evidence that:

  • Supports your assertion that factually incorrect information has been used; or
  • Addresses an issue not discussed in the report that you believe should be included; or
  • You believe will impact a rating given.

What if you still don't agree with the findings after they are made public?

In some circumstances, you may find that you disagree with a rating given after the CQC inspection report is published. This in itself is not a reason to request a review – any such disagreements should have been addressed before the report is published as per the above.

The only grounds on which you can request a rating review after publication is that the inspector didn't follow procedure for the ratings decisions to be considered valid.

When can you request a review after publication?

If you do believe that the inspector has not followed correct procedure, then you must tell the CQC of your intention to request a review within five days of publication of the report. How to do so is explained in the cover letter that the CQC includes with your final report sent to you.

After you've made your intention clear (via a webform) you will be sent instructions detailing how to request a review of your CQC report. This request must be made within 15 days of the report being published, and you have to state which ratings you are challenging.

What happens next?

Once your formal request for review has been received, the CQC will publish that a ratings review has been requested.

The review will be carried out by an independent reviewer and CQC staff who were not involved with the original inspection. Of course, ‘a review is a review,' as a boss of mine told me many years ago; ratings can go down as well as up after the review, and the new rating will be published on the CQC website as soon as possible.

Have you ever challenged a CQC inspection? How did your review work for your practice? We'd love to hear your experience, so others can learn from it (with your permission, of course).

eSupplies Medical is a trading name of Williams Medical Supplies Ltd, a DCC business