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The CQC: An Important (but Anonymous) Organisation

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In one of those posts, about patient choice, we described our surprise at the lack of public awareness around the Care Quality Commission (CQC). In our own experience, common responses include “Who?”, “What do they do?”, 🤔 and 🤷.

The CQC is actually a very important organisation, as they are the independent regulator of all health and adult social care services in England. The easiest way to understand what they do is to think of them as “Ofsted, but for health and social care”. This is a useful comparison, because like Ofsted, the CQC regulates its sector, inspects all services and produces reports and ratings of those services.

However, unlike Ofsted, the CQC is not well known amongst the general public. Considering that the CQC regulates everything from our hospitals and GP services, all the way to home care and care home services, this lack of awareness is striking. We would never think about what schools our children go to without at least checking their Ofsted rating, and maybe even reading the latest report, so why are we so lackadaisical with scrutinising our health and social care services?

To better understand this, it is probably easier to think about how the services Ofsted and the CQC regulate impact our daily lives. The vast majority of people in England have attended school for a significant portion of their lives, and may now have children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and any number of relatives who may be currently attending school. The outsize impact those schools have in moulding the future lives and prospects of children means that understanding how those schools are performing has a powerful hold on the psyche of the nation. Therefore, an interest in Ofsted and the work they do has a natural pull.

On the other hand, despite health and social care being of the utmost importance to any functioning society, the reality is that most of us will spend decades having only lightly used such services, largely restricting ourselves to seeing the nearest GP every so often or, in an emergency, visiting a local hospital. This means there is no desire on the part of the nation to keep tabs on the latest ratings and reports of their local hospitals and GP surgery.

In an upcoming post, we will discuss how the CQC regulates health and social care in England, and what you should look out for the next time you use a health or social care service!

Please note that the views expressed here are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of any other person or organisation.

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