Ridout Report – The Care Quality Commission consultation on its strategy for 2016-2021: is a single framework for quality achievable?

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

CQC has published its final consultation on its 2016-2021 strategy and business plan, which follows on from their previous consultation, ‘Building on strong foundations,’ consultation which closed for public comment on 22 November 2015.

CQC’s strategy is focused on 6 main themes:

1.      Improving its use of data and information

2.      Implementing a single shared view of quality

3.      Targeting and tailoring its inspection activity

4.      Developing a more flexible approach to registration

5.      Assessing how well hospitals use resources

6.      Developing methods to assess quality for populations and across local areas

The consultation is not particularly revelatory in its aims and aspirations, as many of them are based on areas it has a duty to deliver anyway. However, one of the more ambitious proposals CQC has put forward is its aim to implement a single shared view of quality in the next five years.

CQC envisions there to be a ‘single shared view of quality’ across the health and social care sector. One of the main objectives to have a single view of quality is to reduce regulatory duplication and make the oversight system more efficient. CQC aims to reach this goal through working with providers and oversight bodies. If achieved, this will be a positive step for providers, as it will relieve the burden of meeting various standards of quality across the bodies that oversee them. This suggests that CQC will expect regulatory bodies and providers to implement and follow its framework on quality when making judgements about the quality of a service.

The CQC framework includes the fundamental standards, the five key questions and the individual key lines of enquiry, along with data and information sharing resources for measuring quality in registered services. This in turn will enable providers to “tell CQC more about how they are delivering high-quality care and where they are making improvements”.

CQC has admitted that this is an ambitious proposal they are embarking on. There are many oversight bodies within the sector and ensuring everyone works from a standard platform to assess quality will require copious consultation and effective persuasion on the part of CQC.

For providers, it may seem like they can breathe a sigh of relief as they can focus on delivering good care rather than complying with a multitude of distinct quality frameworks. However, even if this aim is achieved by CQC, the issue of duplication will still remain as providers will still have different oversight bodies assessing the quality of care. All we can really hope for is less burdensome oversight in the interests of service users and providers. If resources can be freed up for front line investment then that will be a good thing.

It will be interesting to see how the oversight agencies respond to the aspiration of a single shared view of quality over the next few years given the turf wars that exist within the system. Not infrequently, at Ridouts we come across real disagreements between CQC and commissioners regarding quality in particular services.

The consultation closes at noon on 14 March 2016 and responses will be used to develop CQC’s final strategy which is intended to be published and implemented from May 2016.

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