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CQC reveals plans for community health care

Larger inspection teams to include GPs, district nurses and other experts

Louise Prime

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Care Quality Commission has revealed its new plans for inspecting community health care, which will include teams of expert inspectors. In A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of community health care, which the regulator published yesterday, it promises that inspections will be carried out by larger teams of inspectors who will spend more time visiting services and who “will have, or will develop, specialist knowledge of community health services”.

The CQC said its expert inspection teams would include GPs as well as district nurses, community nurses, health visitors, allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, paediatricians, directors and managers – and people with experience of using care services.

The five main criteria against which services will be judged are whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well led. But the regulator will also be considering out-of-hours access to services, how effectively people are cared for in their own homes, cutting avoidable admissions and readmissions, the quality of management of long-term conditions, the level of integration between health and social care services and how well medical records are shared.

The CQC said that during the pilot phase, it will concentrate its inspections on NHS trusts and social enterprise providers of  services for children and families (including universal and specialist services), adults with long-term conditions (including district nursing, specialist and rehabilitation services), adults requiring community inpatient services (it will visit all community hospitals) and people receiving end-of-life care.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, who is the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals and will lead the inspection programme, said: “We have not given enough specific attention to community health services in the past, so I am determined to strengthen our oversight of the sector and develop a picture of the quality of care that is so important in many people’s lives. I will be giving ratings to community service providers so people can be clear about the quality of services and to help drive improvement.

“Where we can, we will align our inspections of community health services with other sectors we regulate, such as community mental health or learning disability services, substance misuse services, primary care services and acute hospitals.”

CQC’s new approach will start with inspections between January and March 2014 of five large, complex organisations that provide a range of services: Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust; Central Essex Community Services; Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust; Solent NHS Trust; and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust (hospital and community health services).

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