The Care Quality Commission (CQC) made radical changes to how it regulates health and adult social care last year, in order to fulfil its purpose to make sure people receive safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care in England.
In its Annual report and accounts out today (Thursday 10 July), the regulator looks back on the 2013/14 business year, which saw the appointments of its Chief Inspectors of Adult Social Care (Andrea Sutcliffe), of General Practice (Prof Steve Field), and of Hospitals (Prof Sir Mike Richards). They are leading specialist and expert teams for their sectors, with inspections and other actions based around what matters most to people who use services – whether they are they safe, caring, effective, well-led and responsive to people’s needs.
Also in 2013/14, CQC began to rate services on a four point scale of Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement, and Inadequate. These will help people compare services and highlight where improvements need to be made. CQC rated 18 NHS trusts last year and has rated more since then. CQC will begin to do the same for adult social care and general practice services from this October.
Another highlight was when the regulator launched its “Intelligent Monitoring” model for acute NHS trusts, which analyses various sources of performance data about services, including people’s experiences and views of care, to help CQC decide what to inspect and when.
David Prior, Chair of the Care Quality Commission, said: "In 2013/14, we completely changed CQC’s leadership team, its organisation and governance, and began to develop a fundamentally different approach to risk monitoring, inspection and regulation.
"The next year is another significant moment for the organisation as we move from development to implementation of our new model. We are at the beginning of a long journey to excellence. We are heading in the right direction but it will take time to build and entrench an effective new approach to regulating health and adult social care.
"We are clear that our priority is the safety and quality of care that people receive and we believe that greater transparency will help to drive improvements in standards.
"We are making progress and we are confident that, increasingly, those who need health and care services will be able to rely on our judgements, be informed by our ratings, be protected from inadequate care and benefit from a health and social care service that is continuously improving."
David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: "CQC’s role is to make sure people receive safe, effective, compassionate, and high-quality health and adult social care and to encourage services to improve. To achieve this, we have made radical changes to the way we inspect services. At the same time, we have carried out more inspections than in previous years.
"I would like to thank CQC staff for the immense hard work they have put into the last twelve months and for their commitment in delivering the changes needed."
Other highlights from 2013/14 include:
CQC inspected over 1,700 more locations than it did in 2012/13 – 30,334 locations, compared to 28,583. These total 39,567 planned, responsive and follow-up inspections. The 6% increase in inspected locations was mainly because CQC began to regulate general practices for the first time last year. Most of CQC’s inspections (68%) continued to be of care homes and other adult social care services, as this is the largest sector that CQC regulates.
CQC involved people who have experience of using care services (known as “Experts by Experience”) on over 3,000 more inspections than it did in 2012/13, showing CQC’s continued commitment to make sure the views of people who use services are at the heart of everything it does.
CQC issued a third more warning notices to providers for not meeting national standards of quality and safety: 1,456, compared to 910 in 2012/13. This reflects CQC’s commitment to take action when it identifies areas of concern and its closer scrutiny on providers to ensure they improve their services, as well as the higher number of inspections that it carried out.
CQC was contacted 9,473 times by health and adult social care professionals wishing to “blow the whistle”; a 10% increase from 8,634 in 2012/13. This could show greater awareness about CQC and the willingness of those who work in regulated services to be open about their concerns.