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Government set to review CQC ‘effectiveness’

by Anna Colivicchi
9 May 2024

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The CQC is set to face a review into its ‘operational effectiveness’, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

The ‘focused review’ will be led by North West London ICS chair Penny Dash, who has been appointed by the DHSC on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

It forms part of the the Cabinet Office’s Public Bodies Review programme, which was launched in 2022, with the aim of reviewing 125 public bodies and saving the taxpayer around £800m over three years.

The review is ‘standard procedure’ under the programme, according to the Government.

The DHSC has declined to provide the full terms of reference for the review, but according to the HSJwhich first reported the story, it will look at:

  • the effectiveness of CQC’s ratings and whether these are incentivising the improvement of care
  • how the watchdog is taking into account service users
  • how the CQC’s new assessment framework, which was rolled out in November, is working.

CQC chief executive Ian Trenholm said: ‘We welcome this review and look forward to working with the appointed team.

‘We recognise how important scrutiny of regulation is – we want the public and our stakeholders to have assurance that the effectiveness of our approach has been independently assessed, so that they can have confidence in our judgements of quality.’

It comes after a Government survey found that the CQC inspection process may be ‘disproportionate’, although the incredibly low response rate hampered conclusions.

All 51,000 providers registered with the CQC were given access to a survey as part of a post implementation review but only 86 responded and only 36 of those were NHS providers.

The DHSC also launched a consultation last month seeking views on changes to CQC regulations.

As it stands, the regulations that give CQC power to oversee services are set to expire in 2025 but the Government is proposing to remove this in favour of five-yearly reviews.

It said that the purpose of removing the expiry date is to ‘ensure CQC continues to have regulatory oversight’ of the health and care sector, and inserting a five-yearly review clause would mean ‘regular reviews’ of the regulations to ensure ‘they remain fit for purpose’.

The CQC started to roll out its new assessment framework from November last year.

It currently still uses five key questions (safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led) and a four-point ratings scale (outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate) but as part of the changes, the CQC introduced six new ‘evidence categories’ to organise information under the statements.

These new categories include people’s experience of health and care services, feedback from staff and leaders, feedback from partners, observation, processes and outcomes.

A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse