The Care Quality Commission is to become a “quality inspectorate” focusing solely on the safety and quality of providers.
The commission, which has been fully established for less than 18 months, will be stripped of its role in regulating commissioners - a responsibility that will be taken on by the NHS commissioning board.
We have always talked about outcomes. We are not there to chase everybody on processes
The CQC will in future operate a “joint licensing regime” with Monitor. The commission will check the safety and quality of services, inspect providers and take enforcement action where services need improving.
It will host the national element of HealthWatch, described in the white paper as “a new independent consumer champion”. It will have powers to propose CQC investigations of poor services based on information from HealthWatch within local authorities.
Liberating the NHS described the changes as “strengthening the role” of the commission.
CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower told HSJ the regulation, compliance and monitoring of providers had always been the commission’s main focus.
She welcomed the white paper’s focus on outcomes, saying: “We have always talked about outcomes. We are not there to chase everybody on processes.”
The proposals to jointly license services simply “formalised” and clarified relationships that were already in place with Monitor, Ms Bower said.
“I don’t see it as something radically different from what we are doing now but it’s putting more strength into that working relationship,” she said.
Similarly, she sees the CQC’s hosting of HealthWatch as an extension of the relationships the CQC already has with local representative groups.
Ms Bower also said she welcomed talk in the white paper of an “information revolution”: “We have always been clear that we see patients and service users both as the prime targets for the information that we produce as a regulator, but also as a major source of information for us in terms of making our judgements about services.”
The health white paper in full - Equity and excellence: liberating the NHS
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CQC chief welcomes 'formalisation' of relationship with Monitor