Today the Care Quality Commission (CQC) launches an ambitious new strategy based on extensive consultation with the public, providers of health and social care services, charities and partner organisations.
CQC’s purpose of ensuring high-quality, safe care won’t change, but how it works to achieve this will. The new strategy is set out under four themes:
- People and communities: regulation that is driven by people’s needs and experiences, focusing on what is important to them as they access, use and move between services.
- Smarter regulation: a more dynamic and flexible approach that provides up-to-date and high-quality information and ratings, easier ways of working with CQC, and a more proportionate regulatory response.
- Safety through learning: an unremitting focus on safety, requiring a culture across health and care that enables people to speak up and in this way share learning and improvement opportunities.
- Accelerating improvement: encouraging health and care services, and local systems, to access support to help improve the quality of care where it’s needed most.
Running through each of these themes are two core ambitions:
- Assessing local systems: giving the public independent assurance about the quality of care in their area
- Tackling inequalities in health and care: pushing for equality of access, experiences and outcomes from services.
At the heart of this strategy is how CQC will work to make a positive impact on the experiences of everyone who receives care, while regulating in a targeted way, which supports services to improve and prioritise safety.
One fundamental change is that CQC will assess how well local health and care systems are working and addressing local challenges. This is likely to be underpinned by legislation in the forthcoming Health and Social Care Bill.
The strategy also recognises that effective regulation to improve the quality of care depends on people’s feedback and experiences.
The regulator will develop more ways to gather views from a wider range of people, including those working in health and social care, and improve how this is recorded, analysed and used consistently. This will make it easier to quickly identify changes in the quality of care, both good and bad.
CQC will make it easier for people, their families and advocates to give feedback about their care and will provide a response on how this is used to inform regulation. This will include specifically engaging with people who are disadvantaged, have had distressing or traumatic experiences, and those who are more likely to experience poor outcomes or inequalities. CQC will increase scrutiny of how providers encourage and enable people to feed back and how they act on this to improve their service.
The strategy also sets out how innovative analysis, artificial intelligence and data science techniques will be used by CQC to support proportionate decisions based on the best information available – ensuring that it will be ready to act quickly and tailor regulation to individual circumstances.
Another major change is the way in which CQC will provide information on quality, including ratings, so that these are more relevant, up to date, and meaningful. This will support people to make informed decisions and be confident that the information provided fully reflects the quality of care available to them and their loved ones.
While on-site inspections will remain a vital part of regulation, CQC will move away from a set schedule of inspections to a more flexible, targeted approach using a range of regulatory methods, tools and techniques to assess quality and ensure an up-to-date picture.
Peter Wyman, Chair at the Care Quality Commission said;
“Health and social care services are about people. Where people are not experiencing high quality care in a way that works for them and their individual needs, we must work together to change it. This is what our new strategy is about.
“The world of health and social care has changed dramatically since CQC was established over a decade ago as an independent regulator – not least in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our new strategy responds to these changes, setting out a plan to deliver regulation that better meets the needs of everyone using health and care services, driving improvement where it is needed and supporting those who work in and lead services to deliver the best possible care.”
Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive at the Care Quality Commission said;
“Our purpose has never been clearer. In our assessments we will ensure that services actively take into account people’s rights and their unique perspectives on what matters to them. We will use our powers proportionately and act quickly where improvement is needed, whilst also ensuring we shine a positive light on the majority of providers who are setting high standards and delivering great care.
“This is not a static strategy – we will continue working with others to understand any further improvements required as we implement these changes, to make sure we are protecting people, and with others, driving change.”