202008.06

CQC’s transformation continues apace

As you all know, CQC’s Emergency Support Framework came into force on Monday 4 May 2020, with details about it being published for the first time the previous Friday. However, it is now on the way out.

From September 2020, CQC says it is hoping to introduce a new “transitional methodology.” In the Executive Team Report for the July 2020 Board Meeting, it is stated:

This will draw from the 5 key questions we have asked previously but will be much shorter. It will involve some visits and some remote assessment of data. This methodology will make use of the new technology platform we created during COVID19.

Such a general statement is not especially helpful, and clearly CQC is still developing the transitional methodology. There is no August Board Meeting, so we won’t see anything about this new methodology through that forum, unfortunately. I suspect CQC will publish some online information about it just before it goes live.

The intention is for this transitional methodology to remain in place until early 2021 when the “future strategy” will take over. CQC says it will be consulting on its 2021 strategy in the autumn as part of its smarter regulation programme.

At the recent July Board Meeting, Ian Trenholm, CQC’s CEO, stated that there will be a new regulatory platform which will look quite different to CQC’s traditional methodology. He added that he did not think CQC would be writing conventional inspection reports anymore. They are looking at ways to publish material online in a more digital and lighter weight way. He added that the approach would be more predictive than reactive. CQC is still deciding what to do in relation to ratings and the frequency of inspections. We will have to wait to see what CQC proposes in relation to these issues in its autumn consultation.

Looking to the future, CQC adds a little more detail in its July Executive Team Report:

In the longer term technology such as: a new digital platform for all provider engagement; mobile apps for regulatory activities supporting inspection and enforcement; digital engagement with the NCSC; and AI in our risk and intelligence services will all be available. This gives us the capability to rethink the whole idea of an ‘inspection’ and enhances our ability to recycle knowledge and insight into the sectors we regulate to support improvement.

In its recent provider engagement, CQC has raised the possibility of setting up an improvement arm within its organisation which would be a radical departure from the current position. CQC was at pains to point out until the pandemic that it was not an advisory agency. Quite how this change sits with it being an independent investigative and enforcement body remains to be seen.

CQC is also reviewing its policy in relation to overt and covert surveillance of providers. If it adopts covert surveillance that, again, will be a radical shift from current investigative practice.

So on a number of fronts it appears CQC regulation will be changing significantly over the course of the next 12 months. Changes that would normally take years to implement are happening in months, such is intensity of the impact of the pandemic on new ways of working. The success of these changes ought to be judged by the degree to which they promote and achieve best practice in regulation, the principles of which are set out in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and the Regulators’ Code, of which CQC is a signatory: (1) targeting regulatory activity only where it is needed and thus reducing the overall regulatory burden, (2) transparency, (3) accountability, (4) proportionality and (5) consistency. If CQC can cement these principles into all its work, it stands a chance of becoming the world class regulator it is seeking to become.

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Should you have any questions regarding CQC’s new “transitional methodology,” please be sure to contact our Health and Social Care legal team on 0143451900 or make an online enquiry here.

About the Author

Neil Grant

Partner & Health and Social Care Solicitor

D.D: 01483 366069

Tel: 01483 451900

Email: neil@gordonsols.co.uk