The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will rate more than 800 additional healthcare organisations in England, including independent doctors that offer digital medical advice and prescriptions.
The Department of Health (DH) said that ‘the changes will bring the services in line with the rest of the NHS and reassure patients who use digital GP apps provided by independent doctors about the quality and safety of the service they are choosing’.
The CQC is currently working on how it will rate these additional services.
‘Better care for patients’
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that, with the NHS approaching its 70th anniversary, ‘we are planning ahead to guarantee safer and better care for patients in the years to come’.
He said: ‘These changes are a world first for patient safety, modernising our tough Ofsted-style inspection scheme so we keep pace with the changing landscape of healthcare, as well as helping tech-savvy patients to make informed decisions about their care.’
At the moment, the CQC rates NHS Trusts, independent hospitals, GP practices and adult social care services as ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’, based on whether the services are safe, caring, efficient, responsive to the patients’ needs and well-led.
Making ‘informed choices’
Sir David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said: ‘CQC’s ratings of health and care services are helping people to make informed choices about their care as well as supporting providers to improve.
‘CQC already inspects and publishes reports for these additional services and so, the ability to award ratings to them will bring increased transparency for the public about the quality and safety of their healthcare.’
The proposal follows a 2017 consultation by the DH in a bid to increase the CQC’s ratings powers and ‘bring all independent community health services and independent doctors within scope’.
Hazel Jones, programme director for apps and wearables at NHS Digital, said that the scheme will ‘complement the NHS apps library, which already includes a small number of GP apps all assessed by the CQC, and provide ‘trusted digital tools for patients and the public to manage and improve their health’.