Introduction to the Care Quality Commission’s Regulation of Health and Social Care Providers

Since April 2010 the Care Quality Commission has gradually introduced legal requirements for a number of organisations, in relation to the provision of health, adult social care and dental services. These requirements relate to all providers of a regulated service as defined by the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

The Care Quality Commission has developed a document detailing the Essential Standards of Quality and Safety that they have identified providers should be meeting in order to be delivering services in a safe and patient focused way. These essential standards replace the previous guidance provided in the form of The Standards for Better Health for NHS Trusts and the previous regulations under the Care Standards Act 2000.

Under the CQC’s new system, the intention is that all registered providers will be demonstrating the same set of essential standards of quality and safety whilst also demonstrating respect for their service users’ dignity and rights. This uniform set of standards applies across the board, whether providing community based healthcare, domiciliary care within the home or long term residential nursing care. The focus of this new registration system is the assessment of outcomes from the point of view of the patient or service user.

This means that providers will need to be able to demonstrate that their patients are happy with the services that they are receiving and that they have proactively consulted with them in designing and re-designing their provision. This patient focused approach thus demonstrates a slightly different approach to the previous regulatory body, who were more targeted towards the implementation of robust policies and procedures. Further differences can be seen in the fact that providers will need to be registered for each regulated activity that they carry out rather than as an organisation as a whole; the regulated activities that require registration are listed below:

- Personal Care
- Accommodation for people who require nursing or personal care
- Accommodation for people who require treatment for substance misuse
- Accommodation and nursing or personal care in the further education sector
- Treatment of disease, disorder or injury
- Assessment of medical treatment for people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
- Surgical procedures
- Diagnostic and screening procedures
- Management of supply of blood and blood derived products
- Transport services, triage and medical advice provided remotely
- Maternity and midwifery services
- Termination of pregnancies
- Services in slimming clinics
- Nursing care
- Family planning services

With such a broad spectrum of activities that need to be registered it is hoped that this new system of registration will ensure that services are being provided in line with service users’ needs and that patients can expect a uniform approach to the care and treatment that they receive regardless of when or where it is delivered. Additionally, with details of registrations being made available on the Care Quality Commission’s website it will be possible for the general public to assess a service’s registration status and compare it with alternative options, thus providing choice and an incentive for providers to maintain and/ or improve standards.

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