One year on: Update on delivering our strategy for the changing world of health and social care

In this first blog of a new series exploring our progress in delivering the ambitions of our strategy, Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive Officer at CQC reflects on the work we’ve done over the last 12 months.

This month marks a year since we launched our ‘New strategy for the changing world of health and social care’ and I would like to start this blog by thanking everyone we’ve worked with over the last 12 months to help us get to this point.

You’ve all played an important part in laying the groundwork to enable us to start making our ambitions a reality, which I know will make a real difference to health and social care across the country, ensuring people in all communities have access to the high quality of care they have the right to expect.

We have a unique oversight of care, and not everyone is aware that we regulate more than 35,000 services across health and adult social care — both in the NHS and independent sectors.

Large scale change in any organisation is difficult, and alongside a global pandemic we’ve certainly had some major challenges thrown at us all. The impact this has had on our working and personal lives is unprecedented.

Our regulatory and organisational transformation began before the pandemic, but I’m pleased and proud to say that it has carried on throughout at pace. It’s vital that we continue to keep the momentum going.

To be able to move forward we must look back, so I wanted to reflect on the progress we’ve already made over the last year.

We adapted our approach so that we could still maintain a view of quality during the pandemic. While some of our routine inspection work was paused, we developed a way of having structured conversations with providers and our monthly reviews gave assurance to people about the quality of care.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, we were also still able to carry out more than 12,000 inspections in residential care locations and introduced greater flexibility to our methods by also piloting a new way of inspecting homecare providers — all of this has provided valuable learning as we develop our new regulatory approach.

Our new single assessment framework has been developed following extensive engagement and, will help us to understand how people experience care across a geographical area as well as in an individual service. Thank you to every one of you that has contributed to this.

Since we launched the strategy, we’ve been making progress on our two core strategic ambitions:

The Health and Care Act 2022 which has just passed through Parliament has given us a new role in looking at systems — by this we mean how health and care services work in a local area e.g. Birmingham.

This includes a role reviewing and assessing integrated care systems (ICSs) as well as new powers to look at how local authorities meet their social care duties. We’ve been speaking to people who use services, charities, local authorities, ICS leads, and other stakeholders to shape how we do this. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to understand how services are working together and will enable us to better understand health inequalities and identify barriers to accessing care.

This year we’ve also made progress in developing the technology that will underpin our move to becoming a modern, forward-thinking, and insight-led regulator.

We’ve built on the technology we developed during the pandemic to help us receive and share information in an easier and more flexible way. Our new provider portal will improve how providers interact with us as they’ll be able to share information quickly and see what information we hold about them.

We’ve also strengthened our own internal data and insight capabilities, enabling us to get a much deeper insight from our data and use it to understand the quality of care in an area.

One of our strategic ambitions was to improve how we communicate with providers and the public, so more people know about us and the work we do. We’ve recently started making improvements to our website to enable us to do this, by making it easier for people to find the information they need and have trust in what we’re doing, in what is a complicated and evolving landscape.

To do all this work well, we need to make sure we’re organised in the right way. Our operational teams will work in multidisciplinary teams but will retain their sector specialist knowledge. Our Chief Inspectors will also play a more active role in raising standards and working to accelerate improvement in services and at a system level.

I fundamentally believe that this change will be both positive and powerful. There’s still work to do and we will be taking inspiration from across the health and care sector to deliver this. I’m looking forward to what the next year brings.

I know that many of you want to know more about the timeline for when we’ll start to roll out these changes. Conversations will start with stakeholders over the next month, and we’ll provide more detail through upcoming blogs.

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