Monthly column for providers and professionals working in healthcare from Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals

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Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals

We are all operating in an ever-changing environment, and one of our challenges as a regulator is ensuring that how we regulate keeps pace with new types of service or new innovations in care.

Last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) awarded CQC £500,000 through its Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to explore how we can work with providers to encourage good models of innovation.

We have since started collaborating with providers and innovators in our ‘regulatory sandbox’. The sandbox is a space where we look to:

  • set out what good quality care means and publish that for the rest of the sector
  • develop the way we inspect clinical activities that rely on new innovations
  • register new types of service providers (where they fall within our regulated activities)
  • provide the regulatory clarity and support needed to deploy innovation safely in health and care services.

We hope that developing policies in this new way will provide clarity and support to innovators to help them deliver high quality care and meet the needs of people who use services. It should also cut the time it takes for us to regulate new types of service or new innovations in care so that regulation is not a barrier to innovation.

We are currently inviting innovators and providers to join our regulatory sandbox in two rounds which will run concurrently, exploring:

  • Community care at home teams

This round will focus on personal assistants and other micro-providers, and the umbrella organisations that support them.

  • Machine learning in diagnostic and screening services

This will focus on how machine learning algorithms support diagnostic and imaging services. This includes the interpretation and delivery of imaging, physiological measurement, blood samples, endoscopy, sonography and other clinical data.

More information is available on our website. I would encourage you to share with colleagues and consider being part of this important work.

For non-specialist acute NHS trusts, use of resources assessments are carried out by NHS Improvement and are treated as a sixth key question alongside our own questions on quality covering safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led.

I would like to bring your attention to some improvements we have made when it comes to displaying use of resources ratings on our website, in our inspection reports and on trust ratings posters.

The developments mean that the use of resources and combined ratings can be displayed consistently with other trust ratings on our website, while inspection reports will also include a summary of the findings from the use of resources assessment.

As a result of these developments, we will be requiring trusts to display their use of resources and combined rating alongside their other CQC ratings under Regulation 20A. Trusts are only required to display the overall quality rating on their website, but they must display all ratings on posters.

You will start to see the changes to our website and inspection reports from 4 October, and from this date you will also be able to download your ratings posters. Trusts that have already been assessed and rated for use of resources will need to update the ratings posters shown around their sites.

Guidance on the display of ratings, how to download CQC ratings posters and how we enforce the regulation is available on our website. I urge you to make any necessary changes as soon as possible after 4 October.

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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