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The CQC: How It Works


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In a previous post, we introduced the CQC, one of the country’s most important, but anonymous, organisations.

We explained how this “Ofsted, but for health and social care” regulated these services in England and that despite its importance, few people were familiar with the CQC’s work. In this post, we want to introduce what the CQC actually does, and what to look out for the next time you are looking for health and social care services in England!

What does the CQC do?

As mentioned in our previous post, the CQC are the independent regulator of all health and adult social care services in England. They inspect all services and produce reports and ratings of those services, all published on their main website.

What does the CQC regulate?

The CQC regulates three broad areas:

  • Hospitals: this includes NHS Trusts and private hospitals, as well as related health care service providers, such as dentists, ambulances etc.
  • GPs and doctors: in practice, this means GP surgeries
  • Care services: this includes care/nursing homes and domiciliary (home) care

How are services rated?

When the CQC inspects services of regulated entities, they ask five questions:

1) Are they safe?

Is there protection from abuse and avoidable harm?

2) Are they effective?

Does the care, treatment and support achieve good outcomes, help the individual to maintain quality of life and is based on the best available evidence?

3) Are they caring?

Do the staff involve and treat the individual with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect?

4) Are they responsive to people’s needs?

Are the services organised so that they meet the individuals needs?

5) Are they well-led?

Is the leadership, management and governance of the organisation making sure they are providing high-quality care that’s based around the individual’s needs, that they are encouraging learning and innovation, and that they promote an open and fair culture?

In each of these categories, the services are assigned one of four ratings, listed below from best to worst:

  • Outstanding: services that achieve this rating are considered to be performing exceptionally well
  • Good: services that achieve this rating are considered to be performing well and meeting the CQC’s expectations
  • Requires Improvement: services that achieve this rating are considered to be not performing as well as it should, and have been told by the CQC how it must improve
  • Inadequate: services that achieve this rating are considered to be performing badly and the CQC will have taken action against the person or organisation that runs that service

How do I find reports for services in my area?

You can find every inspection report for health and care services in England on the CQC’s own website. In certain cases, services are so new that no inspection has been conducted yet. However, this does not mean that the service is illegally operating, as all health and care services still have to be registered with the CQC if they are a regulated service.

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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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