My excuse to fret and worry as a dentist for the last few years has been the CQC. The dentist ‘s version of Big Brother otherwise known as Care Quality Commission. I won’t bore you with the details of what it is and how it came about. That’s what Google is for. Suffice to say it became a legal requirement on 1st April 2011 to put the fear of god into dentists, especially the fully private ones not regulated by primary care trusts (PCT’s) who focused solely on NHS practices. The PCT’s are now obsolete. CQC rule.
So when I finally got around to registering us ( late) and declared us non compliant on safeguarding (Outcome 7 for any CQC nerds) because quite simply it was all new and we had no idea what safeguarding was about (seems every other practice did even though they didn’t if you know what I mean. Too honest for my own good sometimes), I then sat and waited for ‘the phone call’. And waited. And waited. And waited.
As we waited I went through what every dentist does, staff issues, patient care, staff issues, juggling home and work life, staff issues, kids exams, staff issues and not forgetting staff issues. Seriously how was I supposed to get all this CQC tick boxing stuff done AND treat my patients with a constant change of staff? More importantly why was I getting this constant change of staff?Well the last question is a blog in itself so let’s leave that for another time.
Of course I care about my patients. Of course I sterilise all our stuff, Of course I use disposable instruments where I can. Of course I treat my patients with dignity and respect. Why do I have to tick a million sheets of paper each day every day to say I do? Surely every dentist is doing what they should be doing? Aren’t they?
Finally the call came, 2 years, 5 months and 19 days after I expected it. I was one of the lucky ones. I had almost a week’s notice. Most people got 2 days and if you were really unlucky they could turn up unannounced. And then the panic ensued. Had we got all our stuff in place? Where was the policies folder? Where the hell did I put my enhanced CRB document? Where the hell were all the maintenance certificates? Did I have staff? Where was the tickboxing boxes of ticks? I won’t go on. Let’s just say I know my practice top to toe now, where every piece of paper is and every cobweb. The latter have been cleaned out, generations and generations of spider families wiped out thanks to CQC.
The practice is looking the best it’s ever been. A serious declutter and organisation I never thought I was capable of let alone able to implement. I was knackered. My two NEW nurses were knackered. If ever there should be an initiation test for a new nurse a CQC visit should be it. My nurses, Lucy and Meranda passed it with flying colours regardless of what the CQC outcome would be ( get what I did there CQC nerds? 😉
The day was upon us Wednesday 25th September 2013. My dad’s birthday. Surely that’s a good omen. My first patient was at 10am. CQC arrived at 9am. Not the whole department obviously. Just one lady. A strong powerful lady who made us all quake in our fully compliant surgery crocs. At 9:30am I got my first text ”erm she’s very thorough” ( that made me laugh ..no really)..”where’s the referrals policy?” I DON’T KNOW! THAT WAS YOUR JOB TO GET READY! I didn’t text that back. Next text came through ” Oh no Lucy is almost in tears. She’s being grilled on HTM01-05 ( decontamination stuff)” That was the text that had me charging into the practice. No one makes my nurse cry! Not even CQC.
Downstairs I charged, into the basement, heart hammering, hand outstretched, introduced myself and waited to be tortured by CQC. Would she use her torture equipment? Tickling normally does it for me. I’ll blurt out ”NO I DIDN’T SHOW LUCY HOW TO WASH HER HANDS PROPERLY!I’M SORRY! DON’T SHUT ME DOWN!” if she brings out the feathers.
So imagine my surprise when she said she was very pleased with the website. It had all the relevant information for patients required by CQC and in fact it made her smile. Really? Well done Sunny Mann! She had been through our CQC cupboard (yes we have one allocated specifically) and seen we had all the policies, procedures, documents in place. She had been in both surgeries checking our equipment, materials and even did the ‘dust test’ ..finger wiped along surface. You ain’t never going to catch us out on that CQC..never! Were we now compliant on safeguarding having truthfully declared ourselves as not when we first registered? But of course! Level 3 baby!! No I didn’t say that to her ..although I was tempted. And all she needed to do to finish her inspection was speak to some of our patients and make sure we were treating them with dignity and respect. That was the easy part. I am not bragging when I say our patients do love us. It’s a fact.
And then she was gone.
And then it dawned on me. CQC are not out to catch you out. They are out to catch you out if you’re not doing what you should be doing. And as the lady said ‘they’re not stupid’ If you try and blag your way out of something make sure you have indemnity cover. CQC requirement. Because you’re going to get caught. If you haven’t complied on something admit it and then comply. We knew we were doing the right thing. Now the public knows we’re doing the right thing And there’s a reason for CQC to be a good thing if ever there was one.
I just want to end this by saying a BIG thank you to Stacey Firman of Boulevard Practice Management who was invaluable in getting us organised, ready for CQC and was happy to be the lamb in the lion’s den for most of the inspection. If you have not had your inspection..call her..seriously. Big thank you to Sunny Mann, my practice manager who stayed up with me until the early hours of the morning eating takeaways and chocolate, fretted with me and has been solidly working on all our policies, procedures,website and HR over the last year and a half and continues to do so. Call her if you want a website to make CQC smile because I can tell you right now there’s not an awful lot for them to smile about given the fact we treat them like dental traffic wardens. Another big thank you to my two new nurses Lucy and Meranda who within two weeks of starting work at The Fulham Dentist have been put under the most pressure to make sure my surgeries were spotless.
And the final biggest thank you to my dad. Of course his birthday was going to be a good omen for a CQC inspection.
Now back to Kili training. No excuses.