The Care Quality Commission, Monitor, Dr Foster Intelligence and others are being asked to follow a set of “values” in the hope of avoiding a repeat of last year’s row over quality reporting.
The National Quality Board, on which all three have seats, is expected to publish a report in the next few weeks setting out how the organisations should work with and behave towards each other.
It will help to bring clarity to who is responsible for what
The quality board, which is chaired by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson, met for the first time in March 2009 and is meant to “ensure the overall alignment of the quality system”.
However, the autumn was characterised by rows over regulation and the measurement of quality in the NHS, with different members of the board being drawn against each other in the media.
The CQC was criticised for its handling of action against Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust. CQC chair Baroness Barbara Young, who has since resigned, was also criticised for failing to defend the annual health check scores in light of the resulting media storm.
However the media appeared to back the methods and findings of the Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2009, which included a foreword written by the National Patient Safety Agency, whose chair also sits on the quality board.
The board has since discussed the Dr Foster and CQC events and the Department of Health hopes the new report will help avoid similar fall-outs in future.
NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, a member of the board, said: “The report will include values which define the relationship between different players and organisations. That will help to bring clarity to who is responsible for what.”
Sir Bruce said the various organisations could not easily be aligned quickly. However, he said: “It can be done with the goodwill and positive intentions [of those on the board].
“Each organisation has its own independence and sovereignty. [But] if one wants to take a different line they have to give an account of themselves to their peers.”
Another board member told HSJ the values should help avoid repeats of the conflicts. But they cautioned that the board could not address any “fundamental flaws” in the system, or stop individuals going their own way.