Press Release - The Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) today (Monday) launched a consultation on guidance outlining what health and adult social care services will need to do to meet new legally enforceable registration standards.
From April 2010, the regulator will begin to put in place the first ever registration system covering all health and adult social care services in England, whether they are public or independent.
The CQC today released guidance on what services must do to meet the 29 registration requirements set by the government.
It said the new system would fundamentally change the way services are regulated and how regulation will be used to drive improvement in services.
The registration requirements set essential common quality standards across the care sector and will replace the current standards in place for health and adult social care services.
The CQC worked with a range of stakeholders to develop the guidance, including people who use services, people providing services, professional bodies and other regulators.
The guidance focuses on what constitutes a positive outcome for a person receiving care and what services should be doing to achieve that outcome. It will be used to decide whether a service should be registered, whether it should maintain registration and whether further action from CQC is needed.
The CQC is asking for feedback on whether the guidance appropriately reflects the registration requirements and if it reflects what should rightly be expected of a safe, quality health or adult social care service.
Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the CQC, said the introduction of registration for all providers of health and social care was a "fundamental change" to the way quality of care would be safeguarded.
"This is a big change to the way health and adult social care services are regulated and how we drive improvement in services. People have a right to expect a certain standard of care, regardless of whether they are receiving health or adult social services and regardless of whether it is in the public or independent sector.
"Registration will make sure that health and adult social care providers across the country are meeting essential common quality standards. It will make the system fairer, more transparent, and make it easier for people to compare providers.
"The registration standards and our guidance on what providers need to do to meet them are legally enforceable.
"Our focus will be on driving improvements, but we do have a range of new enforcement powers at our disposal if providers aren't doing all they should be to deliver safe, quality services."
Ms Bower added that the views of people who use services would be central to the consultation process. She said: "We've spent a lot of time talking with people who use services and they tell us they want us to focus less on policy and processes and more on people. We think that's the right way forward so the starting point for all the guidance is what constitutes a positive outcome for people using services."
Both the registration requirements and the underpinning guidance will be legally enforceable.
The CQC has tough new powers to deal with providers that do not meet the new standards and the guidance, including imposing conditions on registration, fines and in extreme cases, cancellation of registration. Services have to register to be legally allowed to operate.
Currently, the NHS is regulated differently to independent health and adult social care services.
Independent health and adult social care services currently must register with the regulator and comply with the National Minimum Standards in order to maintain registration.
NHS providers are currently registered against a single registration requirement relating to healthcare-associated infections, but must also meet the Standards for Better Health.
Registration will be phased-in from 2010 and the National Minimum Standards and the Standards for Better Health will be in force until services are required to register.
The Department of Health has recently completed a consultation on registration requirements and will take final legislation through Parliament. It is expected that NHS providers will be the first to register under the new system. They will be required to declare their compliance with the registration requirements and guidance in January 2010, with registration by 1 April.
All providers of adult social care services and independent providers of healthcare services will be registered under the new system by 1 October 2010.
From 2011, registration will, subject to legislation, begin to be introduced for general practices, all dental practices, and private and voluntary ambulances. This will be the first time that many of these primary care services will come under the direct scope of independent regulation.
Consultation on the Guidance for Registration closes on 24 August.