Patient safety

16.01.17

CQC to fast-track inspections of adult social care to ease winter burden

The chief executive of the CQC, David Behan, has said that his organisation is working on rapidly re-inspecting care homes which have restrictions on admission in order to reopen bed capacity and help ease intense NHS winter pressures.

Behan made the comments – outlined in board papers ahead of a meeting on 18 January – following on from Jeremy Hunt’s emergency statement made to the House of Commons this time last week, in which Hunt said that NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSI) were considering measures to help “particularly distressed” hospitals cope with the crisis.

The CEO’s report also confirmed that the CQC will be completing a thematic review on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) after Theresa May announced a series of new measures to support mental health.

“The CQC has committed to review those services where there is a restriction on admissions and where the lifting of these restrictions would have the potential to increase capacity in those areas where there are the most significant pressures on the health service,” Behan wrote in his report.

“This review would take into account an assessment of the risk at the service and consider whether a re-inspection could be brought forward with a view to lifting the restrictions on admissions if sufficient improvement has taken place and can be sustained.”

Behan made it clear that the CQC’s move to reopen bed capacity, which is focused on community health and social care, would not support putting patients at greater risk by agreeing to open up “services where we have serious concerns”.

The CQC “will not be compromising on standards of quality” in reopening the beds, its chief executive stressed.

There are three main reasons why a care home or hospital may have restrictions on admissions, these being a result of action taken either by the CQC, local commissioners or the provider itself.

The CQC is also working closely with NHS England and NHSI to monitor the “intense pressure” being faced by A&E departments, with a focus on ensuring that patients receive timely assessments and stay safe, the board papers said.

Behan also confirmed the inspectorate’s upcoming thematic review of CAMHS in England, revealing that the “detailed scope, responses and timetable” of the review are currently being developed.

“The thematic review will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current system to support young people’s mental health and help us better understand the pathways that children with mental health issues follow and the obstacles that they face,” he added.

Elsewhere, Behan’s paper once again confirmed that no directorates are yet meeting their timeliness targets with regards to published reports. As previously revealed by NHE, the CQC’s executive team have agreed to source external consultancy to directorates in order to re-examine this issue from an outsider perspective. The board papers revealed this process will start later this month.

But figures in the report do hint at the effectiveness of the CQC, showing that providers rated by inspectors as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires Improvement’ do tend to improve the quality of their care.

Across 4,917 return inspections – inspections following the CQC’s initial rating – 2,255 providers (46%) improved their overall rating – although 45% did not change and only 9% deteriorated further.

The CQC is currently consulting on plans for the next phase in its regulatory approach, including drawing up a revised assessment framework for all sectors and consulting with NHSI on how it will assess trusts’ leadership, governance and use of resources. It expects to publish its response to these consultations this spring.

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