CQC’s executive directors had a busier than usual 2020, for obvious reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the regulator to stop in its tracks: inspections ceased, staff scrambled to work remotely, enforcement actions and registration decisions slowed dramatically.
Driven by the changes imposed by COVID-19, CQC unveiled a set of emerging themes to direct its regulatory approach for 2021 and beyond. This guide will help you understand the thinking behind their new approach and discuss what you can do to adapt to CQC’s new, ambitious approach.
CQC’s second theme emphasises the regulator’s desire to use data, IT and provider information in innovative ways. It aspires to be more flexible and dynamic in how it registers, monitors, inspects and supports providers. At the same time, CQC refers repeatedly to its aim to reach decisions that are both consistent across its different regional and sectoral teams and proportionate to the circumstances of the provider in question.
The regulator anticipates that its ‘smart’ approach to inspecting and rating providers will make it less reliant on scheduled, all-inclusive, on-site inspection visits. Its provider ratings would be ‘updated more often’ and better reflect people’s feedback and their experience of the care, not only the quality of care observed at inspection. IT would play a central role in CQC’s evolving approach, with an emphasis on making the most of artificial intelligence and data science to monitor, analyse and interpret data. Findings would be used by CQC to better target its resources and to better identify which providers to inspect, when and how to inspect and the issues to focus on. It would also inform how to rate providers. The aim is to replace lengthy inspection reports with ones that are more relevant and informative to people.
The strategy stresses that the provision of safe care starts with CQC’s registration function which will focus on whether providers have a ‘culture of learning and improving’. CQC’s vision is to achieve an attitude and approach amongst providers and stakeholders that strives for ‘zero avoidable harm’. The regulator aspires to be more proactive to protect people from harm before it happens.
CQC lays out ambitious aims to establish an ‘improvement alliance’ with the aims of spotlighting areas for improvement and providing support to services when needed. The regulator is keen to take the lead in driving and facilitating improvement. This would involve CQC providing consistent, nationwide support to providers to facilitate services raising their standards and moving out of ‘special measures’.
CQCs new themes are undoubtedly bold and ambitious. However, with careful planning, you should be able to adapt and flourish in this new regulatory regime.
Errol Archer, Scott-Moncrieff & Associates.
Consultant Solicitor Advocate - Health & Social Care Law