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CQC to begin ‘sampling’ services to ensure inspections are consistent

by Jess Hacker
18 June 2021

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will sample services by carrying out an inspection to check that its monitoring activity is consistent with evidence gathered by telephone or on-site, it has said.

In a statement made this week (14 June), the CQC’s chief inspectors outlined the Commission’s plan to develop its monitoring approach after it suspended routine inspections in March 2020.

As part of these developments – which are currently being piloted ahead of a full launch on 13 July – the CQC will carry out some sampling of services to ensure it is making ‘consistent and robust decisions’.

They said: ‘In this way, we’ll be able to check that our monitoring activity is consistent with our inspectors’ findings when they gather evidence either by telephone or by making an on-site visit.’

This comes after inspections of services that had previously breached regulations, as well as those rated as ‘requires improvement’ without any regulatory breaches, resumed in April.

The statement also said the CQC will carry out monthly risk reviews to allow inspectors to target their resources toward services most in need.

In cases where the review indicates the need to reassess a rating – such as for services where people may be at increased risk of poor-quality care – the Commission may undertake an immediate on-site inspection.

The CQC outlined that inspectors’ judgement will remain ‘at the heart of our approach’, but that the improved access to information will allow inspection teams to act quickly when a greater level of risk is identified elsewhere.

Approach recognises state of health sector

Responding to the CQC’s statement, Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, welcomed the ‘more targeted’ approach to regulation.

However, he added, navigating the steps outlined ‘will need to account for a health and care sector confronting the toughest conditions it has ever faced’.

‘It will also need to recognise that systems are encouraging candour as to the risks they collectively face, particularly in light of the inequalities highlighted during the pandemic,’ he said.

He added that the CQC now faces the challenge of translating its strategy into ‘proportionate and nuanced regulatory assessments’.

This comes a month after the CQC published its new 2021 regulation strategy, which set its focus on assessing local systems’ ability to improve outcomes and reduce inequalities.