• Health secretary tells CQC he will commission more local system reviews
  • DHSC had ignored a request from the CQC in November for more reviews
  • Regulator was forced to disband its team in light of DHSC silence

Health secretary Matt Hancock will use his powers to commission more local system reviews from the Care Quality Commission, HSJ has learned.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the health and social care secretary wrote to the CQC last week to state his intention for it to continue inspecting local health systems next year.

Earlier this month, it emerged the CQC had been forced to disband its local system review team after the health secretary failed to respond to a letter from the watchdog sent in November.

The CQC has carried out 23 local system reviews, which examine how well NHS bodies, local authorities and other partners collaborate on caring for vulnerable patients using multiple services.

Because the CQC only has powers to regulate individual providers, it requires a formal direction from the health secretary to undertake the work. A letter to the Commons health select committee revealed the system reviews had cost just over £2m in total.

In a report on its overall findings last year, the CQC said the existing funding arrangements for providers were hampering efforts to integrate care and called for a population based funding solution. Former CQC chief executive Sir David Behan warned “competitive rivalries” between the NHS and local councils needed to be set aside.

The DHSC said details on the exact number of system reviews and the level of funding the government would make available were yet to be determined but confirmed the health secretary had written to the CQC to make clear his intention to commission more reviews.

A DHSC spokeswoman said: “People should have access to the health and care services they need wherever they live. We asked the CQC to look at how well local areas are working together to support people as they move between health and adult social care and highlight where improvements can be made.

“Discussions have been ongoing about the next steps and the health secretary has now written to the CQC to commit to continuing this programme next year.”

The CQC’s chief inspector for primary care Steve Field said he was “delighted that DHSC has recognised the local and national benefits delivered by the first 20 local system reviews by commissioning a further programme of reviews”.

He added: “These future reviews will support providers and commissioners to collaborate more effectively with local partners so that people get better care.”