The world of health and social care is changing. So are we.

In his latest blog, Care Quality Commission Chief Executive, Ian Trenholm, introduces a new document sharing our latest thinking on our strategy. He discusses how our engagement so far has shaped our thinking and raised further questions to explore ahead of a formal consultation in January.

Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive, CQC

In my last blog, I looked at how we’re working now, shared our immediate plans for what we’ll do next, and started to look ahead to the future and our new strategy.

This time, I’d like to focus firmly on the future.

The world of health and social care has been changing for a number of years. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated that change. We’ve seen new types of services developed at pace; new digital channels; and new restrictions on how services are delivered.

As the regulator of health and social care, we need to cement our place in that new world. As I’ve said previously, we’re not going to return to the way we worked previously — this will mean some big changes.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been speaking to people who use services, providers, other stakeholders and our CQC colleagues about the emerging themes of our future strategy. We carried out a range of activities to hear your views, including webinars, podcasts, online engagement through our participation platform, surveys and one-to-one conversations.

Today we’ve taken the next step and have set out our early thinking on the priorities of our future strategy. We’ll be formally consulting early next year, but we want to share how our engagement so far has influenced our thinking and stimulate conversation where we know there’s still some work to do.

We are unashamedly ambitious. We want to play our part in changing our regulation so that:

  • People understand how their voice can make a difference to the safety and quality of the services they use, and giving feedback on care — good or bad — is normal and routine
  • Providers can get real-time information on how they’re doing; regulatory conversations are open, and underpinned by mutual respect and consistency of message
  • Improvement of services is universal and powered by collaboration, relentless learning, and routine comparisons with others.

Your feedback so far has helped to develop our thinking, confirm areas where we need to focus, and has raised further questions.

When it comes to championing a safety culture, the public told us we need to be clear in the language and definitions we use. Do we need to create a common language for all sectors and all national organisations? How do we ensure people are active partners in their own care?

Meanwhile, providers want us to be clearer on our expectations when it comes to what a good safety culture looks like.

People have a right to safe care, and we want to explore what an ambition of zero-avoidable harm might mean in practice across health and care. We’re not setting targets and we know this is ambitious, and most importantly we can’t do it alone.

How we can best support providers to improve is an area where we’ve heard conflicting views: especially in relation to whether we should develop an ‘improvement arm’. While some people were supportive, others voiced concerns that it would blur our core regulatory purpose and risk overlapping with the roles of other existing organisations. But what is clear is that access to the support needed to improve isn’t consistent or equal for different types of service across the country.

We want to explore how we can form alliances with other organisations and networks to drive improvement across the provider sector. This will ensure support is available to providers, with the offer being tailored to each sector. It’s a big change, and one which requires us to balance our regulatory responsibilities with our unique insight and ability to support providers to improve.

A thread running through everything is a need to do more with what we hear from people who use services, their families and carers. If we are to truly put people at the centre, we need to have the right tools and processes in place to act on what we hear and tell them what we did with their feedback.

This is just a snippet of what we’ve heard so far. We’ve only just started to scratch the surface about what the themes mean for people and how we might make them a reality.

Share your views

We have taken on board everything we’ve heard to develop and strengthen our strategy themes. There are some big questions still left to answer, but we want to hear your thoughts on how our strategy is shaping up. Your feedback is invaluable.

We’ve shared this early thinking on the priorities of our future strategy on our online participation platform. We’ll also share more detail on what we’ve heard and how it’s influenced our thinking.

Over the coming months we’ll be running more activities to gather detailed views. Look out for the latest opportunities to get involved through our bulletins.

The challenges of the pandemic are not abating anytime soon. We need to think about tomorrow, even if today is tough. If ever there was a time for bold thinking, it is now.

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