Care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has outlined its priorities for the next 3 years, which include strengthening its focus on mental health and mental capacity.

In its plan, Raising standards, putting people first – Our Strategy for 2013 to 2016, the CQC commits to strengthening its focus around the Mental Health Act (MHA), Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) to protect people’s human rights, particularly those who have had their freedom restricted by being detained and treated against their will.

In regard to monitoring patients under the MHA in the community as well as in hospital the CQC will build on the individual-centred approach and expertise it uses in its monitoring work under the MHA because issues such as blanket restrictions can affect voluntary patients as well as those formally detained.

The CQC also said it will increase the level of training and guidance on mental capacity that it gives to frontline staff to strengthen the links between its assessment of providers’ practice under the MCA and their performance against the Health and Social Care Act regulations.

In addition, the CQC will develop its ability to monitor local social services in their role as ‘supervisory organisations’ in the DoLS system.

The CQC also plans to involve more people with direct experience of care – experts by experience – in its inspection and MHA visits. The regulator also plans to involve more service users and people currently or previously detained under the MHA in its work.

To increase its understanding of people’s and their families’ experience of DoLS the CQC plans to listen more to community and advocacy organisations.

David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said: “People have a right to expect safe, effective, compassionate, high quality care. CQC plays a vital role in making sure that care services meet those expectations.

“We recognise that quality care cannot be achieved by inspection and regulation alone – that lies with care professionals, clinical staff, providers and those who arrange and fund local services – but we will set a bar below which no provider must fall and a rating which will encourage and drive improvement.

“In developing our plans for the next three years we have looked closely at what we do and listened to what others have told us, to make sure we focus on what matters to them.”

Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network, welcomed the CQC’s plan: "We want to congratulate the CQC for producing a bold, even-handed and very clear statement on their direction of travel. We particularly welcome the involvement of service users as 'experts by experience' and senior clinical personnel and other leaders from provider organisations in the regulatory process.

"Whilst recognising the need for CQC to remain independent, the era of stand-off that had developed between NHS providers and CQC in some places needs to be put behind us and the shared ambition of striving for best quality and promoting best practice can be a shared ambition to deliver a better NHS."