CQC has issued a consultation on its new 5 year strategy, “The world of health and social care is changing. So are we”. All CQC registered providers can respond by 4th March.

The proposed strategy commits CQC to being a more flexible regulator to meet the increasingly complex care journey and advancements in innovation and technology. It also commits to using its powers and voice to reduce inequalities, eliminating discrimination and protecting human rights. It emphasises the need to look at an individual’s journey through every stage of the health and care system, looking at not just individual services but also across different providers and organisations.

The strategy centres around 4 key themes and there are potentially some big changes afoot.

People and Communities

Regulation must be driven by people’s experiences, their expectations and needs from health and social care services. Examples of the proposals from CQC are:

  • Feedback from service users will be gathered through multifaceted ways and used more prominently to determine quality, with more detail in reports and on how people’s views have been acted on by providers.
  • The need to empower the public about CQC’s role and what standards they can expect from services though providing a clear definition of what “good” or “outstanding” care looks like and providing meaningful information to the public.
  • When assessing individual provider services, CQC will also assess how well that provider is working as a system in partnership with communities to meet the diverse needs of their populations. Not working in this way will be unacceptable.

Smarter Regulation

CQC want to provide a more dynamic, consistent, accurate and up to date picture of quality. Some proposals from CQC are:

  • Scheduled inspections will be a thing of the past. Using data about a provider from a variety of sources , and this being analysed by CQC’s new IT analysis system which includes Artificial Intelligence, will be as relevant as a targeted site visit.
  • Ratings will be changed more fluidly so they become more meaningful and reports will be shorter, easier to understand and more accessible.
  • CQC will expand its definition of a “provider of care” to those responsible for directing and controlling care so they can be held to account. This could have major significance for corporate providers and investors and further details are awaited.

Safety through learning

Safety continues to be the poorest area of assessment in inspection and the expectation is that stronger safety and learning cultures must be prioritised. Some proposals from CQC are:

  • There will be greater clarity from CQC as to what “safe care” means and there will be a sharper focus during inspections on checking that an open and honest culture exists in an organisation, with learning and improvement at its core.
  • Where risks are noted, CQC will intervene far quicker and, where improvement takes too long or isn’t sustainable, enforcement action will be taken.
  • CQC is committed to using its insight and voice to promote a national conversation on safety across health and social care.

Accelerating Improvement

CQC want to play a more active leadership role in driving improvement and empower services to help themselves. Some proposals from CQC are:

  • CQC will be clearer on the standards expected and there will be a higher bar to what “good” looks like. Services will be expected to keep on improving so they remain “good”.
  • CQC will develop collaborative relationships with services, helping them to find their own route to improvement, pointing providers to relevant sources of guidance, offering analysis and benchmarking data and holding improvement conversations.
  • It will champion new innovation and technology-enabled services and develop a proportionate approach to regulating such new innovations. This will also consider where technology might disadvantage some people.

The above is a snapshot of the proposals set out in CQC’s 26 page document and providers should read the document and have their say in responding to it with their own thoughts on the proposals. As with any document like this, there is a lot of detail still to come to understand more fully how the strategy will take shape and how big some of these changes will be in practice. It is clear though that regulation is set to catch up with the dynamism and innovation of the changed health and social care world over the next 5 years.

Over the coming weeks, look out for our further thoughts on some of the issues raised in this consultation and please do contact us if you’d like to discuss any aspect with us.

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