Northern Ireland: Widespread frustration as RQIA inspections to go ahead
20 August 2020
In recent discussions with RQIA regarding the resumption of on-site inspections, we stressed the need for a sensible and light-touch approach at this difficult time. We’re frustrated to see RQIA take on board few dentists’ concerns.
RQIA are insisting that ‘on-site’ inspections for the first tranche of inspections will go ahead, despite our warnings. However, we understand, mitigating measures will be put in place, the inspector will wear appropriate PPE, keep a two metre distance from GDP staff and talk to each member of staff for no longer than 15 minutes.
We reiterated the profession’s concerns that on-site inspection senselessly increased the risk of COVID transmission and increased the likelihood that patient treatments – already significantly delayed - would have to be rearranged. RQIA have said that they will give maximum support to practitioners, including around sufficient leeway in agreeing a mutually convenient time for inspections to take place.
In addition, all practices selected for inspection would receive a supportive telephone call with an inspector a month in advance of an inspection taking place, and around flexibility to set a mutually convenient date for inspections. RQIA stressed that they wanted inspections to occur at a mutually acceptable time – even after normal working hours in exceptional circumstances – and inspectors should speak to the Practice Owner directly, not receptionists.
More details can be found in this RQIA letter. If practice owners affected have any concerns about the practicalities of the proposed inspection, or believe RQIA inspectors are not following the arrangements set out in the letter, then please share those concerns with RQIA Senior Inspector Jo Browne on 028 9536 1887.
We continue to advocate on behalf of the profession and RQIA has committed to working with us over the coming weeks to design an updated inspection process which could feature remote inspections if the practical details can be worked out. We trust a degree of common-sense will prevail when it is needed more than ever.