The Care Quality Commission is planning to “cross the threshold” of NHS trusts for inspections at least once a year, the regulator’s chair said this week.

The CQC is moving to a risk based inspection regime as part of its strategy to manage its shrinking budget, which will see it target resources where the “risk to the quality of care is greatest”.

Peter Wyman

Peter Wyman

Peter Wyman said inadequate GP practices will be inspected ‘very frequently’

Speaking at the Commons health committee on Wednesday, CQC chair Peter Wyman said: “Our intention is there will be an inspection, perhaps not a comprehensive inspection, once a year.” He added that this view was the “current thinking” of the CQC but it was due to go out to consultation on its approach before Christmas.

Mr Wyman said GP surgeries can expect an inspection every three to five years for those rated outstanding or good. Those rated inadequate will be inspected “very frequently… more than once a year”. Adult social care providers will be inspected every two years or very frequently based on their rating.

The CQC is due to be involved in two consultations before 25 December. The first will be published by the CQC and will primarily look at hospital inspections and its assessment framework. The second will be a joint consultation issued by NHS Improvement which will look at how best to assess a trust’s use of resources and how well-led it is.

Although the joint consultation is also due out before Christmas, Mr Wyman indicated this deadline may not be met. He said: “Consultation will hopefully be out this side of Christmas, the new year if not, with the view to start to pilot this in April.”

Concerns about assessing the use of resources were previously raised in the CQC’s November board papers. They said: “We continue to work with NHSI to understand their proposed assessment approach including how they intend to operationalise the assessment. Until this is in place there is a risk about our ability to consult jointly in December at the level of detail needed to allow publication of full guidance in April 2017, and begin implementation from that point as we have committed.”