Inspection and Regulation

21.12.16

Trust core services to face more unannounced CQC inspections

NHS trusts will face more unannounced inspections of core services under new proposals unveiled by the CQC, as part of the regulator’s drive to be more responsive to risk and improvement.

Under the proposals, which are now open for consultation, the majority of core service inspections will be unannounced or carried out at short notice.

The regulator said it will choose at least one core service, including urgent and emergency or child and adolescent mental health wards, at trusts to inspect, which it has identified as at risk or improving.

David Behan, chief executive of the (CQC), said: “People tell us that they want to receive care that is high quality and safe.

“This consultation is about evolving our existing approach using what we have learnt from our comprehensive inspections to help drive further improvement in the quality and safety of care, while adapting to changes in the way services are being provided.

“Our proposals for NHS trusts are designed to enable us to be more responsive to risk and improvement while at the same time being more efficient and effective.”

Furthermore, the CQC plans to update the frameworks inspectors use to make judgements about the quality of care. This includes abolishing its 11 different assessments and establishing two, one for health and one for adult social care. This will address concerns that the current CQC regime is unsuited to assessing health and care systems as a whole.

The CQC has also proposed a set of principles it will follow in inspecting new methods of care. These will include being proportionate and transparent, and aligning inspection processes to minimise complexity for providers who deliver more than one type of care.

It will also produce new guidance for registering learning disability services which makes clear that services must be built on evidence-based care and in line with national policy.

Proposed changes to how the CQC will inspect NHS trusts include a greater focus on trust leadership, and more ongoing monitoring, while carrying out a more targeted and tailored approach and fewer comprehensive inspections.

In addition, the regulator promised that its future annual information requests for trusts will be less detailed and allow them to describe their own quality against the CQC’s five standards – ‘safe’, ‘well-led’, ‘effective’, ‘caring’ and ‘responsive’.

It also said it would align its work more closely with NHS Improvement to help trusts “meet the dual challenges of quality and efficiency”.

Behan has indicated that the two organisations could introduce a new framework to assess NHS trusts on the basis of ‘value for money’.

In its submission to the Health Select Committee inquiry into the future of the CQC, NHS Confederation said that 94% of its members supported fewer and more risk-based inspections. However, it also criticised the CQC for introducing a two-year inspection fee hike and not doing enough to support new models of care.

The CQC is also going to publish a new strategy for round-the-clock engagement with members of the public.

The latest consultation runs until 14 February. To take part, click here.

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