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Preparing for Your CQC Single Assessment Framework Inspection: Essential Tips and Strategies

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Single Assessment Framework (SAF) has been the standard for GP practice inspections since November 2023. With over 100 practices already evaluated under this new system, it’s crucial for all GP practices to understand how to prepare effectively for upcoming inspections. This guide provides practical tips and insights to help you navigate the SAF process smoothly. 

Key Changes Introduced by the SAF 

  • 34 Quality Statements: The SAF framework is built around 34 quality statements, articulated through “We and I” statements. These statements provide clear expectations of care quality and operational standards that practices are expected to meet. 
  • Six Evidence Categories: The framework employs six categories of evidence to evaluate how well a practice aligns with the quality statements. This approach shifts the focus from onsite inspections to a broader evaluation that includes feedback from staff, patients, and partners. The six evidence categories are: 
  • People’s experiences 
  • Feedback from staff and leaders 
  • Observations of care 
  • Feedback from partners 
  • Processes 
  • Outcomes of care 

 Focus on High Priority Quality Statements: Certain quality statements, especially those with a national or regional impact, are prioritised. Currently, the CQC is emphasising the Responsive Key Question and the Equity of Access Quality Statement. These areas are critical in assessing how practices respond to patient needs and ensure equal access to services. 

Transitioning Towards Effective SAF Preparation 

Start by closely reviewing how your practice aligns with the SAF’s quality statements. Pathfinder offers up-to-date “We and I” statements with specific prompts that can help guide your evidence collection effectively. This tool is designed to make it easier for you to gather and organise the necessary documentation and feedback, ensuring a comprehensive overview of your practice’s compliance with each criterion. 

In addition to self-assessment, obtaining external feedback can provide a more rounded view of your practice’s performance. DKJ’s mock inspection services aim to gather feedback from staff, patients, and partners. This can offer insights into areas that might need attention and helps in building a baseline understanding of how these key groups view your services. 

Pathfinder allows for the organised storage of evidence related to the SAF quality statements. By keeping everything from quantitative data to qualitative feedback in one place, you can ensure that you are ready to present a complete picture of your practice’s performance when the time comes. 

Identifying and Acting on Improvement Areas 

Understanding where your practice currently stands is crucial, but so is identifying where improvements are needed. Pathfinder can help highlight areas for focus by comparing your practice’s performance against benchmarks. This comparison can aid in prioritising which aspects to address first for the most significant impact. Using Pathfinder’s RAG related action plan feature allows for a clear prioritisation of areas needing immediate attention versus those already meeting standards, ensuring focused and efficient improvement efforts 

DKJ’s services can complement this by providing a plan based on the assessment’s findings. DKJ’s approach to using the data collected during the assessment phase means you can have a targeted strategy for improvement. Whether it’s addressing specific feedback from the mock inspections or enhancing particular aspects of your practice’s operations, the goal is to make focused improvements. 

In essence, the SAF inspection represents an opportunity for continuous improvement and excellence in patient care. Through understanding the key changes introduced by the SAF and employing both internal assessments and external support, your practice is well-equipped to navigate the inspection process confidently, showcasing a commitment to upholding the highest standards of care. 

If you want to know more about how we can help drop us an email at or visit our Pathfinder CQC page.

Blog by Kiran Johnson of DKJ Support Services

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