Monthly column for providers and professionals working in healthcare from Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals.

Earlier this year we ran the third consultation for the next phase of our regulation, which set out our proposals for developing how we regulate independent healthcare services. We received a total of 263 responses from a range of different people and organisations. We also held a number of events with providers, CQC staff and members of the public (including with seldom heard communities).

This is a positive step in the evolution of how we inspect, regulate and rate independent health services, and will mean a level playing field across independent health and NHS services

Overall, we received strong support for most of the proposals, with the majority of respondents supportive of the proposals to regulate the independent health sector in a consistent way to how we regulate other sectors. There was also strong support for our plans to strengthen our monitoring of independent healthcare services, to become more focused and targeted in our inspections over time and to introduce rating in a way that is consistent with our approach to ratings in other sectors.

This is a positive step in the evolution of how we inspect, regulate and rate independent health services, and will help us adopt a consistent approach across all settings and will mean a level playing field across independent health and NHS services. I would encourage you to take a look at the full consultation response, and familiarise yourself with the updated provider guidance.

Encouraging improvement

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, an important role of CQC is to encourage improvement in providers to ensure they are delivering high-quality care for everyone.

Our annual inpatient survey is one way of identifying areas where trusts are performing well, and also where there are further improvements that could be made. It is also an important vehicle by which we can understand what patients really think about the care and treatment they receive.

We recently published the results of the 2017 inpatient survey. It was encouraging that the results showed some improvements in people’s hospital experiences, but it also highlighted concerns around discharge and inequalities for those with mental health conditions.

I would like NHS trusts to reflect on their individual survey results to understand what their patients really think about the care and treatment they provide

The disparity between the experiences of people with a mental health condition and those without is a repeating trend found in other patient surveys, and is an area which hospitals must address to ensure that people with physical and mental health conditions are treated equally in acute settings.

The survey makes for interesting reading, and I would like NHS trusts to reflect on their individual survey results to understand what their patients really think about the care and treatment they provide.

This month has seen us publish a number of reports and resources, which I would like to draw your attention to. We have published four further local system reviews, of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Sheffield and Stockport. Look out for the final report in early July, which will bring together our findings and key recommendations from all 20 reviews.

We also published two further resources in our Driving improvement series, sharing case studies from GP practices and adult social care services. These are well worth a read, and you can also revisit our reports focusing on NHS trusts and mental health trusts.

Happy birthday to the NHS!

You will of course be aware that the NHS is turning 70 on 5 July, and CQC along with other arm’s length bodies and trusts across the country, will be celebrating the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions.

The NHS would be nothing without its staff, and here at CQC we’ll be celebrating the people behind the service who have driven improvements in health and care. Visit our website to read the case studies from NHS and mental health trusts, primary medical services and adult social care services, and look out for more on social media.

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We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

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