• CQC had to disband system review team, after DHSC declined to confirm further funding
  • Has so far carried out 23 reviews at a cost of more than £2m
  • CQC says it is “disappointing”

The Care Quality Commission has been forced to abandon its local system review programme after the Department of Health and Social Care ignored a request for approval to continue.

A letter from the regulator to Commons health committee chair Sarah Wollaston revealed it had disbanded its dedicated local system review team after receiving no reply to a request to health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.

In the letter, sent last week, the CQC said it was “disappointing” at this decision, and believed the reviews so far had provided significant benefit and insight on how systems were working together.

The CQC was directed to carry out 23 local system reviews at a cost of more than £2m.

In his letter, published by the committee this week, CQC director of engagement Chris Day said: “In early November, Ian [Trenholm] wrote to the secretary of state to ask for clarity on the focus and scale of the next review programme by mid-December to enable us to maintain the momentum of the work.

“At this point, we have not received a formal response to that request, though we understand that there is no scope for further funding in this financial year and the department wishes to make decisions about the future of the programme after the adult social care green paper is finalised.

“We have as a result been forced to disband our dedicated LSR team due to a lack of funding from the DHSC to continue the programme.”

Mr Day added: “This is a disappointing outcome given the benefits the LSR programme has demonstrated and given how such reviews could help ensure the NHS long-term plan and any future adult social care reforms have a demonstrable impact for people who use services.” He said no legislative change was needed, as ministers could commission the reviews.

The regulator had hoped to carry out more reviews looking at how local organisations collaborate across different topics including cancer, maternity, mental health, learning disability services and respiratory conditions.

HSJ asked the DHSC why the health secretary had not responded to the CQC, and whether it would support more reviews. A spokesman did not answer the questions but said: “We are grateful for the CQC’s work so far and discussions are ongoing about next steps.”