Care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has launched a new 5-year strategy, which will prioritise an intelligence-driven approach to regulation – using information from the public and providers more effectively to target those at greatest risk of letting standards fall.
In addition, the CQC will promote a single shared view of quality, and will work with others to agree a consistent approach to defining and measuring quality, collecting information from providers, and delivering a single vision of high-quality care.
But the CQC will have to achieve this on a reduced budget – it has targeted to make savings of £32 million over the next 4 years.
The CQC’s new strategy, called Shaping the Future, aims to help encourage services to innovate and collaborate in order to drive improvement, while ensuring that people continue to receive good, safe care.
Shaping the Future was developed following a year-long consultation period during which thousands of people, providers, staff and partners shared their views about the future of regulation.
One of the key developments to CQC’s approach will be the improved use of information from the public, providers, other regulators and oversight bodies in order to target resources more effectively to where risk to the quality of care provided is greatest, or to where quality is likely to have changed. In practice, this will mean more use of targeted unannounced inspections, based on information that is constantly updated – for example, if there is a sudden spike in people reporting poor care from a particular service. It would also mean longer intervals between inspections for services rated good or outstanding if they can continue to demonstrate that they are providing good care.
CQC’s chief executive, David Behan, said: “We’re developing our approach to reflect changes in the sectors we regulate – effective regulation doesn’t occur in a vacuum. But our role remains the same: consistently assessing quality of care using the information we and others gather; using what we know to help drive change and improvement; and acting swiftly to ensure people are protected from poor care.
“Inspection will always be crucial to our understanding of quality but we’ll increasingly be getting more and better information from the public and providers and using it alongside inspections to provide a trusted, responsive, independent view of quality that is regularly updated and that will be invaluable to people who provide services as well as those who use them.
“And we’ll make more use of focused unannounced inspections which target the areas where our insight suggests risk is greatest or quality is improving – with ratings updated where we find changes.
“We’ll also do more to help providers to monitor and report on their own quality; work with national and local partners to formalise the definition of quality and agree how we should measure it; and develop a shared data set so providers are only asked for information once. This will make it easier for health and care services to know what is expected of them and to report on it - and easier for people to know what to expect from their care.
“In an environment of pressure and change, we’ll continue to support the system to improve - and take action to protect people where necessary. We know our work is already leading to improved services and better care. Now we’re building on this work and moving forward, to ensure that more people get good care, more of the time – because that’s what everyone wants.”
CQC’s chair, Peter Wyman, added: “Over the next five years the health and social care sector will need to adapt, and we do not underestimate the challenges that services face. Demand for care has increased as more people live for longer with complex care needs, and there is strong pressure on services to control costs. Success will mean delivering the right quality outcomes within the resources available.
“As an organisation, CQC will be costing less – reducing our budget by £32 million over the next four years, while ensuring that our focus on the safety and welfare of people who use services is never compromised.
“We’ll do this by working smarter and faster – for example by using new technology and data to make better use of what people tell us, so that we can use the most up-to-date information to help spot when people might be at risk of poor care. We will improve the processes that underpin our inspections so we can report what we find more quickly. And we’ll be working closely with partners to ensure a more joined-approach that works better for the public and reduces the burden of regulation for providers.
“Health and social care regulation makes a real and practical difference to people’s lives - there needs to be a strong, independent regulator who will always act on the side of people who use services. Our new strategy describes how we will build on what we have learned so we can continue to improve what we do into the future.”