Inspections that will lead to GP practices being 'rated' by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the first time are due to begin this month.
The first GP ratings will be available on the CQC website from November.
CQC tested the new inspection method between April and September 2014, inspecting 336 GP practices across 24 CCG areas.
And 42 GP out-of-hours services were inspected between January and September 2014.
A report into the learning from the test inspections and consultation feedback will be published at the end of October 2014.
Inspections are being carried out by teams that include trained inspectors, GPs, nurses, practice managers and trained members of the public who have experience of care. Starting in October 2014, CQC expects to inspect approximately 8,000 GP practices across England.
GP practices will be rated as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate, giving members of the public clear information about how well their local GP practice is performing to help them make informed choices about their care.
CQC has published a handbook setting out how GPs will be assessed and rated. The organisation hopes the handbook will help providers understand exactly what inspectors will be looking for – and importantly how inspectors will determine the rating following an inspection.
The handbooks are the result of extensive consultation with the public, GPs and the organisations that represent them such as the BMA and RCGP.
Professor Steve Field, (pictured) CQC Chief Inspector of General Practice said: “The handbooks mark an important moment as we begin our new approach to inspecting general practice and in making sure people get good or outstanding services from their GP.
“Most GPs already provide really good services for their patients, but our inspections so far suggest that there is too much variation. Our new style inspections will help to celebrate and promote good practice and ensure that GP practices in need of further support are identified so that they are able to meet the needs of their local communities.”
“We will inspect against what matters most to the people using GP services – asking whether practices are safe, caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs, and well-led.”