Care Quality Commission
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CQC publishes examples of collaboration in urgent and emergency care

In autumn 2020, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a series of reviews to look at how providers were working together to deliver urgent and emergency care services during the pandemic.

Urgent and emergency care services are currently under exceptional pressure because of a combination of regular winter pressures and the pandemic. These provider collaboration reviews are an important opportunity to support local, regional and national improvement. They allow us to share individual examples of good practice and innovation with other providers working tirelessly to care for people during this difficult time.

Significantly, these reviews took place under different circumstances and pressures to those being experienced in the system now. Our full report, expected in spring, will present a wider picture of our findings, including innovative ways of working and where providers have faced challenges or barriers to working together as partners.

There are major challenges in the urgent and emergency care system and improvements are needed if we are to manage future pressures on the system better. This report reflects our continued commitment to driving improvement in the sector. In November last year we also launched Patient FIRST – a support tool designed by clinicians, for clinicians, and includes practical solutions that all emergency departments could consider.

In this vein, we are sharing these positive examples and lessons now so that providers and systems working together against the continued pressures of the pandemic can build on what has worked well for others as they optimise their responses.

Collaboration in urgent and emergency care shares examples from urgent and emergency care services working in:

  • Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership
  • Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
  • Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership
  • Herefordshire and Worcestershire
  • East London Health and Care Partnership
  • Suffolk and North East Essex
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate

In these instances, we saw some good examples of how the pandemic served as a catalyst for change. Our team found that under a great deal of pressure, providers worked together to ensure that urgent and emergency care services adapted quickly, while keeping people’s needs at the heart of their decision making.

The review team also spoke with adult social care providers, including care homes and domiciliary care agencies, to understand their experience of working with urgent and emergency care services. In several areas, reviewers heard how the sharing of expertise, use of technology and monitoring equipment and sharing of staff helped to improve remote triage and prevent people being admitted unnecessarily.

With services facing continued pressure and even greater demand – and the impact that this can have for people who use services – it is vital that the health and social care system does not lose the hard-learnt lessons of this crisis.

Throughout the pandemic, our regulatory role has not changed. Our core purpose of providing the public with assurance that health and care services are safe has driven our decisions. In the current period of increased pressure on health and social care services it is only right that CQC continues to be flexible in our approach. As updated earlier in January, this means that further provider collaboration reviews are currently paused and will restart only when it is appropriate to do so.

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