How to survive a CQC inspection

an image of the initials CQCSouth West London and St George’s mental health NHS trust’s director of nursing and quality standards shares his top tips

At South West London and St George’s mental health NHS trust we are proud of our organisation. We are improving services all the time, staff like working with us and service users choose us for their care and treatment.

But no matter how confident you are in your staff, your services and yourself – when the letter arrives saying that the chief inspector of hospitals’ team (CIH) is coming, and you realise that the inspection is part of the new wave of toughened-up, targeted reviews, then you can be forgiven for being a little nervous. My advice, however, is don’t panic and start preparing.

At the end of July, we welcomed more than 80 leaders from trusts up and down the country to a one-day conference explaining how we got ready for our inspection. We detailed the hours spent planning, assessing, checking and changing, and then going back and doing it all over again.

Our inspection took place in March; more than 50 inspectors descended upon us examining every ward, studying community services, checking paperwork and assessing our attitudes.

A successful outcome demands careful planning, so from the day we received our notification, three months before the visit, we started to prepare and that began with gathering intelligence and setting up a clear structure of project management with staff working to make sure we were ready.

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