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The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has urged Care Quality Commission to publish details about the tests it has carried out using artificial intelligence (AI) which will underpin its proposed new inspection and rating system.

In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic and also in light of anticipated major government changes to NHS and social care structures, the CQC has proposed major changes to its inspection and rating systems.

The PDA has expressed concerns over Care Quality Commission’s recent consultation on proposed changes to its rating system and how it would in future consult when making changes to its processes.

The CQC proposes to review and revise ratings based on a number of factors including ‘AI’ which may not require an in-situ inspection. Instead, it says “We’ll be able to use the expertise and professional judgement of our inspectors in a more flexible way” to arrive at the ratings.

It also plans to publish a framework to enable these changes but this is still in development.

In response to the CQC’s consultation, the PDA said, “Before changes to the rating system are made, the CQC should first publish details about the tests it has carried out using ‘AI’ which will underpin the new inspection/rating systems.”

In addition, the CQC also proposes to ‘simplify’ the published ratings for both GP practices and hospital trusts. It says it is proposing to do this to make it “easier to understand, more relevant and accessible for health and care providers and people who use services.”

The PDA opined that it is also concerned that a desire to ‘simplify’ may result in the loss of important details. It may also miss specific areas which need improvement or are a cause of patient concern.

The PDA also noted the concerns expressed by the Royal College of General Practitioners about the existing inspection process and concerns about bias within this and the lack of follow-through on ensuring settings (such as hospital trusts) fulfil their diversity obligations.

The CQC monitors and inspects many settings that pharmacists practice in, these include GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes.

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