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CQC launches public consultation on new regulatory system

8 January 2021

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has a launched a public consultation on its proposals for a new approach to regulating healthcare services.

The consultation – which opened on 7 January – gives health and social care workers, commissioners, service users and others the opportunity to respond to CQC’s new draft strategy – which it said signals ‘smarter’ regulation and ‘more flexible and dynamic’ assessments.

Anyone wanting to respond to the consultation can do so online before 5.00pm on 4 March 2021. The CQC has previously said it plans to launch the new strategy in May.

‘No set schedule of inspections’

In the proposals, the CQC said: ‘We’ll have a more dynamic approach to regulation. Inspections are not the only way to assess quality: we want to move away from relying on a set schedule of inspections to a more flexible, targeted approach.’

It said, however, that site visits form a ‘vital part’ of performance assessments and remain ‘essential’ in some settings, but that it will use this in conjunction with other regulatory methods and tools to assess quality.

The CQC added: ‘We’ll use our powers to visit services when we need to respond to risk, when we need specific information, when we need to observe care, and when sampling to check that our view of quality is reliable.’

‘Smarter regulation’

The CQC also pledged to be ‘smarter’ in how it regulates, adding its use of data will allow it to focus on ‘risk and where care is poor’, to ensure it regulates in an effective, proportionate and efficient way.

It added: ‘We want everyone we work with to benefit from our regulation. The way we regulate will become more relevant – using what we know to help services to tackle problems early and providing up-to-date, high-quality information and ratings.’

The regulator said it will work with partners across the sector to coordinate data collection – and will only ask for necessary information – to help reduce the workload associated with inspections.

‘Need to adapt’

The draft strategy also noted the increased use of remote consultations and digital tools during the pandemic, which it said meant the CQC also needed to adapt its regulatory approach.

It added: ‘In this new world, we must also transform. We need to make changes to the way we regulate so that it’s more relevant and has positive outcomes for everyone, as people’s expectations of care have changed.’

The CQC’s transitional regulatory approach for general practice – the regulatory system currently in use – took effect on 19 October, and 64 on-site inspections have been carried out within the first three months.