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CQC wants ‘partnership’ with healthcare providers in new ‘lighter touch’ approach

The CQC has said that it wants to have a ‘partnership’ with healthcare providers as part of a move towards a ‘more mature model’ of regulation.

Speaking today at the Westminster Health Forum on the next steps for regulation, the CQC’s strategy lead, Sarah Bickerstaffe, told delegates that the regulator needs to move towards new ‘lighter touch’ format of regulation.

She added that there is now scope within the CQC’s remit to develop its inspection approach, and will now look to ensure providers feel that ‘things are being done with them rather than to them.’

The CQC’s new vision of a ‘lighter touch’ approach to its regulation was first mooted last month by its chief inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field, when he said that resources could be better spent on inspecting services that aren’t as good in order to encourage improvement.

Professor Field’s comments were aligned with the CQC’s launch of a new pilot last month, which will trial ‘place based inspections’ of GP practices.

The regulator’s new ‘quality of care in a place’ pilot will look to assess ‘whole health systems’ in northern England initially – as part of a step towards the regulator focusing on whole areas to see why practices are performing poorly.

But despite Professor Field’s suggestion to plug more resources into practices which ‘aren’t as good’ – and therefore a lighter touch to its regulation – he did add that there would be no major change to GP inspections before all practices have been rated once.

However, the CQC’s strategy lead Sarah Bickerstaffe confirmed today that the CQC does want to move towards to a more lighter touch approach to regulation – making comparisons to Denmark’s regulatory model.

She added: ‘We think there is scope now to move towards a more mature model – so three years ago there wasn’t an agreed definition of the word quality as there is now, and our previous strategy was really a case for change and moving from what was seen as a widely discredited model to one that has more acceptance now, and we think there is scope there to move further forward.

‘In Denmark for example, they created their first quality framework in 1993, and so they’re only now thinking about moving to a lighter touch approach.

‘So I don’t think we are there yet, but I we do want to move in a direction where we feel that we have a partnership with providers so that they feel that things are being done with them rather than to them, whilst at the time being able to respond to risk and being on the side of people using services.’