• CQC GP inspection programme almost £700,000 over budget
  • Increased budget used to increase workforce to meet March deadline
  • David Behan “not open to any other possibility” than adhering to the timeline

The Care Quality Commission has admitted its GP inspection programme will be £700,000 over budget this year as it seeks to complete its inspection of all practices by its deadline next year.

The primary medical services division of the regulator, which inspects all GP services, expects to be £700,000 over its staff pay budget. A CQC spokeswoman said this was “due to the extra volume of staff resource being used to complete the programme”.

Latest figures from the CQC show that as of 9 October it still had 20 per cent of the inspection programme to complete by the end of this financial year – or 1,460 inspections. This includes GP surgeries, out of hours services and providers of remote clinical advice and urgent care.

Speaking at last month’s board meeting, chief executive, David Behan confirmed “additional capacity” had been brought in to help complete the inspections on time. He said there had been “extensive conversations” with the PMS management team to ensure it was “getting a grip” of the inspection programme. Mr Behan added: “It is just essential we complete this programme, I am not open to any other possibility.”

During the board meeting, non-executive CQC board member Louis Appleby said a CQC performance report showed the rate of inspections required to complete the programme was “above the current average” of inspections carried out per month.

The CQC has declined to provide a breakdown of the data on which the report is based, saying it was not “definitive”. However, it said it had completed 821 inspections of GP services in August and September, which appears to be higher than the previous monthly average.

The CQC had planned to finish all PMS inspections by the end of January, however it is now unclear if that timeline will be adhered to. The CQC spokeswoman said the regulator was “confident” that all primary care services would be inspected by the end of March and will remain within the revised budget. She said not all resulting inspection reports would be published in this financial year.