Helen Cooper /

May 2023

How Often Does the CQC Inspect Care Services?


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are an independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. It is their job to make sure that care provision within the country meets certain standards, not only for medial reasons, but also to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society are being cared for safely and with compassion.

In order to achieve this, the CQC carry out routine inspections of care providers such as GPs, dentists, hospitals, mental health services and care homes. These inspections help to make sure that standards are upheld and allow the public to compare services when it comes to choosing a care pathway for themselves or a loved one.

New Registrations

Any new care provider will need to register with the CQC. This involves completing an application listing all of the regulated activities that are being carried out, and registration will only be granted if the CQC are happy with the fitness and compliance of the provider. The CQC will then aim to inspect any new provider within 12 months of their registration.

‘Good’ & ‘Outstanding’ Services

Inspections of existing care providers vary according to the previous rating that they were given. If a provider has been deemed to be either ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ they will typically be inspected every five years. This might seem like a long time but is due to the fact that the service has been found to be providing consistently good care across the various inspection points.

‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ care is usually the result of good leadership, a model of working together with other services, an innovative approach to care and a caring and dedicated team.

A ‘Good’ provider is considered to be performing well and meeting the expectations of the CQC, whilst an ’Outstanding’ one is thought to be performing exceptionally well.

Services that ‘Require Improvement’

‘Good’ care is the very minimum that the CQC believes that people should expect, and so a service that has been listed in the ‘Requires Improvement’ category will find itself under much closer scrutiny. That means that they will be inspected every year until the service has been determined to have improved. These more regular inspections are put in place in order to make sure that there is a continuous improvement of the quality of care that is provided.

If a service is given the rating of Requires Improvement’ repeatedly, then the CQC can take what it decided is proportionate action to encourage an improvement as promptly as possible.

‘Inadequate’ Services

An ‘Inadequate’ service will be inspected every six months, as an improvement in what is offered is thought to be of the greatest urgency. These providers are considered to be placed in ‘Special Measures’.

These providers will need to show a plan as to how they intend to improve and a timeframe in which they aim to achieve that.  Should the service fail to improve, the CQC can use enforcement which can both protect those being cared for and hold providers to account.

This can change the way in which things are run, impose hefty financial penalties, and even bring about criminal charges if they are deemed necessary.

The CQC exists in order to make sure that the same levels of care are available to everyone, and therefore they must be able to identify those who slip below this. By employing regular inspections across the board, they can ensure that a service is safe and competent, as well as respectful, caring and dedicated. Their inspectors will visit a provider to assess what is being offered and to help them improve if it is deemed that they need to.

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