CQC unveils consultation on new five year plan

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

CQC unveils a consultation on its new strategy to take the regulator from 2016-2021. The strategy speaks on achieving CQC’s purpose (ensuring services are safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality) whilst working with a smaller budget.

The plan points to increasing the confidence of the public in the identification of levels of care offered. There are six key themes CQC proposes to focus on: –

Theme 1: Improving our use of data and information
Theme 2: Implementing a single shared view of quality
Theme 3: Targeting and tailoring our inspection activity
Theme 4: Developing a more flexible approach to registration
Theme 5: Assessing how well hospitals use resources
Theme 6: Developing methods to assess quality for populations and across local areas.
Within the consultation document CQC acknowledges the improvements that it needs to make as pointed out by the Public Accounts Committee in December 2015, notably improving the speed at which reports are published following inspection. Becoming a stronger regulator in times of increased financial scrutiny is a theme which pervades the new plan proposed by CQC taking the regulator up to 2021 but there doesn’t appear to be much detail as to how this might be achieved.

In the first two years CQC plans on completing inspection of all healthcare services- a goal which has repeatedly been pushed back with recent estimates claiming completion by September 2016, well into the new strategy. Without this information there is no space to reflect as against the full stock of healthcare services and the complete picture of care in the UK is not yet known according to CQC’s new inspection process.

CQC also states that it is looking to develop a shared view of quality with providers and the public and it will look to support providers in making improvements. CQC will also begin to assess how well NHS trusts use their resources. Adding another string to its bow despite admitting having staffing workload issues.

CQC is confident of being able to function more efficiently by utilising technology to identify waste. It hopes to build on its inspection model following completion of all comprehensive inspections so that it has a comprehensive picture of what levels of care look like and can apply this evenly against all care providers.

This five year plan is an ambitious one which seeks to build on the plan that it is replacing- a key part of which involved inspecting all providers by March/April 2016. This new plan will begin without having the comprehensive backdrop against which to compare healthcare providers essentially beginning a new phase without achieving the goals set out in the previous one. In addition to this missed deadline CQC has to complete its functions with less funding available and increased workloads.

The consultation closes on 14 March 2016 and the responses will be published by May 2016.

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