This site is intended for health professionals only

Sponsored: CQC Strategy 2021 – smarter regulation for a safer future

28 August 2020

Share this article

This article has been provided and sponsored by Quality Compliance Systems

Author: Tracy Green, head of primary care at Quality Compliance Systems.

The CQC’s strategy for 2016 to 2021 was put in place to provide ‘a more targeted, responsive and collaborative approach to regulation so more people get high-quality care’. The CQC is now working on their strategy for 2021, part of which encompasses the ‘Smarter regulation for a safer future’ directive.

While the CQC remains a regulator, times are changing, and the CQC has communicated to practices that it wants to engage more closely with them to provide a supporting role, exploring personalised care and focusing on what matters to people.

With this in mind, the CQC is developing and publishing its strategy for 2021 over five phases. This is currently in phase 3.

Phase 3 has been running since March 2020 and includes the roll-out of the emergency support framework (ESF). While this was a more than ideal approach to on-site inspections, it has allowed the CQC to test how the future may look in terms of a remote, lighter touch inspection strategy. Practices may still have been visited if they were due a re-inspection or they were deemed high risk during this time.

As part of phase 3, the CQC has been carrying out the first phase of Covid-19 Provider Collaboration Reviews with providers and STP/ICS leaders.

CQCs chief executive, Ian Trenholm, recently wrote to all providers, outlining the aims, benefits and ambitions of the reviews. Further information can be found on the CQC website.

The programme began with a focus on health and social care services for the over-65 population, because this group has been particularly impacted by Covid-19. The CQC is actively asking individuals and providers what area it should focus on next. I would encourage any provider that wants to have a say on the future direction of regulation to register their views on the CQC’s platform.

What is changing in general practice?

We know that the CQC has focused largely on the Well-led KLOE (key lines of enquiry) approach over the past couple of years because they recognised that when a provider is ‘well-led’, generally speaking, everything else follows.

There is a focus on providers being safe, and one part of the strategy for 2021 is to have smarter regulation for a safer future. Therefore, providers must ensure they can evidence that they are providing safe care during a phone call or a remote inspection.

There are no less than 37 sub-questions in the Safe domain, but six questions are key. These are:

  1. How do systems, processes and practices keep people safe and safeguarded from abuse?
  2. How are risks to people assessed, and their safety monitored and managed so they are supported to stay safe?
  3. Do staff have all the information they need to deliver safe care and treatment to people?
  4. How does the provider ensure the proper and safe use of medicines, where the service is responsible?
  5. What is the track record on safety?
  6. Are lessons learned and improvements made when things go wrong?

The CQC also needs to be reassured that providers have processes in place to keep people safe including recruitment, training and development of teams, skill mix and staffing levels, managing clinical data, test results and medications.

In terms of emergency equipment, the CQC will review how this is checked and if and how those checks are logged. They will also want to know that lessons are learned, and that improvements are made when things go wrong.

Ultimately, they are looking for evidence that a culture of safety is embedded in a practice at all times.

One of the newer areas that the CQC will look at within the Safe domain is how safety alerts are received, managed, communicated, and documented. Each provider must be registered to receive these alerts, and it is very important someone is allocated to review and act on this; again, documenting all actions taken.

Leading-edge compliance management systems offer a solution

So, what’s the answer? In addition to legislation, greater financial and operational resources, automation can help to create more effective and efficient lines of communication ensuring that patients always come first.

Why QCS?

This is where I believe that Quality Compliance Systems (QCS), a major provider of compliance and content for health and social care, can make a huge difference.

Of course, providers can create their own systems, many of which are extremely effective, but QCS’s team of expert policy writers ensure that policies and procedures are not only delivered to customers in an accessible and easy-to-read format, but are updated whenever policy changes.

In addition to providing up-to-date protocol and evidence based best practice, QCS provides mock inspections for each KLOE, risk assessments, audit templates and a variety of toolkits, and we are keen to hear from you about how else we can support you.

As experts in the market, we know that some PCNs are struggling to keep up with the changing demands. To help them we are due to launch a module specifically for PCNs in the next few weeks. This will provide PCNs with templates that will help them to manage the entire recruitment process for all additional roles including job descriptions and letter templates. We will provide easy-to-read guidance on service specifications and how PCNs can develop effective population health management data, along with some financial guidance.

Indeed, as PCNs move forward we will see some of the most transformative change in a generation. We know that they must consider compliance in equal measure, and the CQC must support them in their efforts. If they don’t, the CQC’s ambitious and far-reaching strategy may suffer, and with it the health of millions of patients.

We are launching our first general practice webinar on Thursday 10 September at 12:15-13:00. Why not join us to find out all about our developments in 2020 and find out how we can support your practice or PCN. Register here