The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced that it is suspending routine inspections of hospitals, urgent care services, and GP practices until the end of January. The CQC says the move will allow front-line staff to focus on patient care, as demands on NHS services continue to increase this winter. However, inspections arising from quality or safety concerns will go ahead as planned. “For the remainder of January, consideration will be given to rescheduling planned routine inspections of acute NHS Trusts, based on individual Trust circumstances,” the CQC said in a statement. “There will be a temporary pause in re-inspections of GP practices and urgent services (including NHS 111, GP out-of-hours and urgent care centres) rated good or outstanding where there is no information to indicate concerns about quality or safety.” As the majority of adult social care inspections are unannounced in response to risk or concerns, the planned inspection schedule will not change but will be kept under constant review. The schedule will be “amended accordingly” if the CQC receives a notification of flu or norovirus outbreak at a location. Normal inspections are expected to resume in February, subject to review. Inspections deferred during January will be rescheduled as soon as possible and providers will be contacted directly about any changes to planned inspections. Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of CQC, said: "We will always act in the best interests of people who use services - so while it's appropriate to recognise the need for staff to focus on patient care at this particularly busy time, we must balance this with our responsibility to check that increased pressure doesn't result in deterioration in the quality of care. We will continue to monitor performance very closely and will act to protect people if necessary.