Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive, talks about CQC’s new strategy. This is the product of almost eighteen months of engagement and development work and sets out how CQC will change for the future. Our purpose and our role as a regulator won’t change — but how we work will be different.

We’re changing how we regulate to improve care for everyone.

What we’ve learned from the past five years, including over the course of the pandemic, puts us in a better position for the future. We’ve developed our new strategy with valuable contributions from the public, service providers and all our partners meaning our regulation will be more relevant to the way care is now delivered. It will be more flexible to manage risk and uncertainty, and will enable us to respond in a quicker and more proportionate way as the health and care environment continues to evolve.

This new strategy strengthens our commitment to deliver our purpose: to ensure health and care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and to encourage those services to improve. This purpose and our role as a regulator won’t change — but how we work will be different.

The strategy is centred around four main themes.

We want to regulate through the eyes of people who use services. This means focusing on what matters to the public, and to local communities, when they access, use and move between services.

We’ll keep pace with changes in health and care, providing up-to-date, high-quality information and ratings for the public, providers and all our partners. This means regulating in a more dynamic and flexible way so that we can adapt to the future changes that we can anticipate — as well as those we can’t. Smarter use of data means we’ll target our resources where we can have the greatest impact, focusing on risk and where care is poor, to ensure we’re an effective, proportionate and efficient regulator. It is also about making it easier for providers to do business with us.

Health and care teams work hard every day to make sure people’s care is safe. Despite this, safety is still a key concern for us as it is consistently the poorest area of performance in our assessments. We want to see an unrelenting focus on safety, requiring a culture across health and care that enables people to speak up, and lessons to be learned as a matter of routine We’ll be prioritising creating stronger safety cultures, focusing on learning, listening and acting on people’s experiences, and taking clear and proactive action when safety doesn’t improve.

We will do more with what we know to help drive improvements across individual services and systems of care. We’ll use our unique position to spotlight the priority areas that need to improve and enable access to support where it’s needed most. We’ll empower services by collaborating and strengthening our relationships with services, the people who use them, and our partners across health and care.

Running through each theme are two core ambitions.

Assessing local systems to provide independent assurance to the public of the quality of care in their area. We’ll look at how the care provided in a place is improving outcomes for people and reducing inequalities in their care. This means looking at how services are working together within an integrated system, as well as how systems are performing as a whole.

Tackling inequalities in health and care by pushing for equality of access, experiences and outcomes from health and social care services. We’re committed to our ambition of regulating to advance equality and protect people’s Human Rights. Everyone in health and social care has a role to play in tackling the inequalities in health and care that some people experience. This strategy sets out our ambition for how we can help influence change.

Much of the work we plan to do in the first year of the strategy will be laying the foundations for what we want to achieve later. This will include how we improve our technical capabilities in areas like data and information, but also in how we test and trial new ways of working.

Over the next year, working in partnership with others, we will:

  • Develop how we monitor risk and test a new assessment framework. This work will enable us to look at the quality of care across a local area, as well as at a provider and service level. We want to pilot our new assessment framework with providers later in the year so that we fully understand the best way to identify the underlying factors that affect the quality of care.
  • Explore our approach to assessing how local systems understand the needs of their local populations, especially people who face the most barriers to accessing good care and those with the poorest outcomes. This will enable them to proactively address inequalities.
  • Introduce new products and services to help providers understand and use our intelligence about the things that affect quality of care. This includes trialling benchmarking information with providers and an improved website so that providers, the public and other stakeholders can access our information easily.
  • Host conversations and draw together evidence to develop our collaborative work on safety and improvement. We’ll make connections across existing networks and use our convening power to create new connections. We’ll work with partners to develop a shared definition of safety across health and social care, and set out how we intend to regulate for safety cultures in a way that empowers services to improve.

I want to thank you for the time you have spent in helping us to shape this strategy. It is purposefully ambitious, and to implement it we’ll need to continue to work closely with others to make it a reality. We’ll review this strategy regularly so we can adapt to changes and be prepared for what the future holds. We’ll keep our stakeholders informed and involved as we implement these changes to make sure we are protecting people and, with others, driving change.

Visit our website to read the strategy.

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