Our first CQC inspection took place on 23rd April 2013. After much anticipation the ‘heart-sink’ moment arrived when our inspector walked through the door. He was a very pleasant chap with a background in care homes and he went on to inspect three outcomes: 1, 7 and 8.
Being entirely honest, it appeared to be a ‘box ticking’ exercise to say that ‘another dental practice has been inspected by the CQC’. It was completed relatively quickly, in around three hours. Sadly, the inspector had no knowledge of dental practices and when it came to looking at our Central Sterilisation Unit, he didn’t know his Helix tests from his elbow!
This inspection left us all a little deflated to say the least. As a team, we had worked together to ensure we met the expectations required by the CQC and provided evidence of our compliance across all outcomes. This cursory glance and subsequent report didn’t reflect the hard work and ethos of our practice, our team and the care we provided to our patients.
We didn’t relish the prospect of another visit from the CQC following this experience but on 24th August 2015, they returned for a second inspection. Two weeks prior to this, we were asked to send the following to our inspector:
- A copy of our current Statement of Purpose
- A summary of complaints and compliments received in the last 12 months, what action was taken and how we implemented the learning from them
- Details of all staff employed by our practice including GDC numbers, where relevant
- Our opening hours
- Percentage of NHS versus private patients
- Services provided.
We also received a poster to display in the weeks leading up to our inspection date that told patients we were being inspected. We were also sent around 50 comment cards for patients to complete which were placed in a secure collection box.
There had been so much hype over the changes to the way practices are inspected again, we really were in two minds as to what to expect.
The day of the inspection arrived and at 9.25 am, two very pleasant ladies introduced themselves as a CQC inspector and a specialist dental advisor, who was a qualified dentist. The inspector explained that she would be looking at the patient journey whilst the advisor would be looking at all things dentistry related. They gave an overview of the day, how they would carry out the inspection and that I would be called in for a review at the end of the inspection when they would tell me how it went and if there were any things we ‘must’ or ‘should’ do (must being – ‘do it now’, should being – ‘you might want to think about it but it probably won’t bring anything to your practice’) and open the patient comment box.
And so it began……
The inspector spoke to patients asking about their experience of the practice; how were the staff? Did they feel listened to? Did they feel they could talk to the staff? Did they feel they could change their mind? Did they know how much to pay and when? Was the practice clean? She also spoke to reception and nursing staff; did they enjoy working here? How are they trained? Do they feel listened to? What is the manager like? Did we have meetings? As well as asking about policies we had in terms of confidentiality, referrals and recalls.
The inspector spoke to patients asking about their experience of the practice; how were the staff?
The inspector spent a lot of time speaking with me about our policies and procedures, training, the patient journey, practice meetings, our recruitment process – the things we asked for when employing staff like contracts, references and copies of passports. She then checked the personnel files to make sure that what I had said we do, we actually do! This was the case with audits, policies, patient consent – pretty much everything really taking a particular interest in our patient feedback forms/audit.
During this time, the specialist dental adviser was looking through our training records (CPR, medical emergencies, AED) for evidence that all staff had been trained in these areas. She looked though our emergency drugs kit, checking them against those suggested by the Resuscitation Council and how often we checked them and our emergency equipment.
She looked through our Radiation Protection, health and safety and COSHH files and our cross infection control, x-ray, prescribing and patient record audits.
The advisor spoke with our dentists and hygienist asking about how they carry out their work in terms of consent, referrals, procedures for radiograph selection and wisdom tooth removal, spending around 40 minutes with the dentists and around ten with the hygienist.
I was called in for our review and was pleased to hear how well it had gone. They were particularly impressed with the organisation of our practice with all of their requests for information being met with ease (files, folders). They mentioned a couple of ‘should do’s’ and at 4.35 pm, they packed up to go not before actually thanking us for an outstanding inspection and commenting on how lovely our staff were – we couldn’t have been more pleased!
My advice for anyone who hasn’t had their second inspection yet?
Be prepared, organised and make sure everything is to hand – this will make your experience of the inspection easier. The last thing you want to be doing is getting into a flap when asked for your prescribing audit if you haven’t done one in yonks or the team meeting notes if you don’t have them.
Be prepared, organised and make sure everything is to hand – this will make your experience of the inspection easier.
I have to say, although it was a long and tiring day, our inspection was a positive experience that was welcomed by the whole team and made all the better by the two lovely and professional ladies who carried it out.