The Government is consulting on expanding the scope of services inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Under the proposals, the CQC could become responsible for rating seven new services including cosmetic surgery providers, substance misuse centres and termination of pregnancy services.
The consultation document says the inspections were initially introduced for NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts, GP practices, adult social care providers and independent hospitals in 2014 to ensure “the CQC provided ratings for those sectors where a rating would have the most benefit.”
But the report adds that the CQC “has learned from the process of developing ratings for these sectors and the Government would like to see this learning applied to other sectors”.
Professor Edward Baker, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at CQC, said: “Our ratings of NHS trusts, general practices, independent hospitals, and adult social care services are supporting providers to improve and importantly, helping people to make informed choices about their care.
“Through our ratings of outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate, never before has the public had such clear and accessible information about the quality and safety of their services.
“The Department of Health’s consultation proposes to extend the types of services that we are able to award these ratings to in the interests of continued transparency and so that we can make sure people receive the safe, high-quality and compassionate care they deserve.
“Extending the scope of our ratings to cover these additional services would allow us to celebrate even more good and outstanding care that is out there and to help the public be even clearer on those services that need additional support to improve.”
The announcement comes after the suspension of Marie Stopes International abortion services for all under-18s and vulnerable women, following surprise inspections from the regulator.
Douglas McGeorge, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said the proposals were “welcome”.
He said: “However, it is important to stress that the CQC regulates facilities – that is, clinics rather than clinicians. Their remit entails a facility or practice’s aspects such as equipment, record-keeping and administrative areas, so we still call for the public to remain extremely vigilant of; and query; their surgeon’s experience and accreditations.”
The full list of the proposed services for regulation is as follows:
- Cosmetic surgery providers
- Independent community health service providers
- Independent ambulance services
- Independent dialysis units
- Refractive eye surgery providers
- Substance misuse centres
- Termination of pregnancy services
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