Care Quality Commission
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Regulator makes proposals for assessing health and social care in 2010/11

Patients and public given the opportunity to have their say on plans to promote high quality services.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) today (Tuesday) launched a public consultation on proposals to promote high quality health and social care through a new approach to assessments in 2010/11.

The assessments will apply to all 152 local councils, 392 NHS trusts and 24,000 adult social care providers.

Complementing its new registration process that focuses on meeting essential standards of care, the commission's further assessments of quality will promote improvement above those basic requirements by providing independent information about the quality of care.

The proposals for 2010/11 include regular scored assessments of care organisations as well as in-depth special reviews and national studies looking at selected areas of care requiring special attention.

The commission's new assessment approach, together with its registration system, will provide an immediate, credible picture of health and social care that will promote improvement and allow swift action to be taken where poor care exists.

As with its registration system, assessments of quality will prioritise the experiences of people who use services and will carefully consider their outcomes.

Important aspects of the new plans include:

  • A move away from an overall score for councils as commissioners of social care and PCTs as commissioners of healthcare. Instead, parts of the assessments will be scored separately to provide detailed information about the quality of specific areas of care.
  • Similarly, it is also proposed to separate scored assessments of the quality of care provided by NHS Trusts and PCT providers. An overall rating for large organisations can be misleading as it could hide variations in the quality of different services provided, e.g. stroke or maternity services.
  • Continuing to use quality ratings for social care providers. They act as a useful guide to assist people who use services when making decisions about choosing their care.

Cynthia Bower, CQC Chief Executive, said: "Together with our new registration system, our assessments of quality represent a new way of regulating health and social care in England.

"We aim to make credible and timely judgements about care quality. We will listen carefully to what people who use services tell us about their care, and will hold those in charge accountable when that care falls below par.

"What people also want and need from the regulator - whether it's someone who uses care services, a chief executive of a large care organisation, or those organisations that performance-manage care quality - is clear, meaningful information. We believe this new approach will provide that.

"We hope people take the time to consider our proposals carefully. Your feedback is important to us."

The consultation closes on 27 April and CQC will carefully consider all feedback before publishing its finalised plans later this year.

Notes to editor

The twelve week consultation closes on 27 April 2010 and final plans will be published later in the year.

Download a detailed copy of the consultation document and give us your feedback online

Responses can also be emailed to assessmentconsult@cqc.org.uk or posted to:

Assessment Consultation
Care Quality Commission
103-105 Bunhill Row
FREEPOST Lon 15399
London
EC1B 1QW

For more information please contact the CQC press office on 0207 448 9401 or out of hours on 07917 232143.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of all health and adult social care in England. We inspect all health and adult social care services in England, whether they're provided by the NHS, local authorities, private companies or voluntary organisations. We also seek to protect the interests of people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act. We make sure that essential common standards of quality are met everywhere care is provided, from hospitals to private care homes, and we work towards their improvement. We promote the rights and interests of people who use services and we have a wide range of enforcement powers to take action on their behalf if services are unacceptably poor.

Our work brings together (for the first time) independent regulation of health, mental health and adult social care. Before 1 April 2009, this work was carried out by the Healthcare Commission, the Mental Health Act Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Our aim is to make sure that better care is provided for everyone, whether it is in hospital, in care homes, in people's own homes, or anywhere else that care is provided.

Registration: The Health and Social Care Act 2008 introduced a new, single registration system that applies to both health and adult social care. The new system will make sure that people can expect services to meet new essential standards of quality and safety that respect their dignity and protect their rights. The new system is focused on outcomes, rather than systems and processes, and places the views and experiences of people who use services at its centre.

From April 2010, all health and adult social care providers will be required by law to be registered with CQC and must show that they are meeting the essential standards. Registration isn't just about initial application for registration. We will continuously monitor compliance with the essential standards as part of a new, more dynamic, responsive and robust system of regulation.