CQC Publishes Updated Approach to Regulating Independent Healthcare Services

Following a consultation earlier this year, the CQC has updated its guidance for independent healthcare providers in England.

The guidance sets out how the CQC will begin rating independent healthcare services that were previously unrated, such as independent ambulance services, independent substance misuse services and cosmetic surgery services.

Following inspection, ratings will be awarded for whether these services are safe, effective, responsive, caring and well-led at overall service and location level, using the same ratings principles used for all other services.

The guidance also confirms that as part of the changes the CQC will:

  • Introduce ‘CQC Insight’– a data monitoring tool currently in use for NHS hospital trusts and primary care providers – for independent healthcare services, starting with mental health and acute services.
  • Strengthen their relationship management with providers and with local and national stakeholders.  Adopting a more intelligence-driven model of regulation informed by ongoing monitoring of the quality and safety of care.
  • Move towards unannounced inspections and introduce maximum re-inspection intervals based on location ratings.
  • Assess and rate ‘outpatients’ and ‘diagnostic imaging’ services separately to better reflect the way these services are organised and managed at many independent hospitals.
  • Over time, the CQC will develop a digital routine provider information request to further improve their ability to monitor services.

The changes will be phased in over time, starting in July 2018.

The CQC will also be producing separate updated provider guidance for Independent doctors and clinics providing acute and primary care, including online prior to beginning to rate these services in April 2019.

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