Writing in a blog, Ted Baker, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says that the planned return to hospital inspections will not just be a return to business as usual.
“We are going to widen our scope for inspections from services where we had immediate concerns about people’s safety, to those services where we have evidence that care needs to be improved,” he says.
The CQC also plans to utilise its Emergency Support Framework (ESF) in discussions with NHS Trusts. This tool was introduced during the pandemic when formal inspections were suspended and has been widely used in primary care, social care and in the independent sector. It provides a mechanism for inspectors to maintain “structured and consistent conversations with providers.” This goes both ways, enabling providers to discuss their approach, highlight good practice and innovation, whilst also providing a forum for “constructive challenge, support and advice.”
The CQC has already started having ESF conversations with acute, mental health and combined Trusts focusing on infection prevention and control (IPC), which will be vitally important in keeping people safe as the NHS moves to reinstate non-COVID services. In particular, the CQC wants to ensure that Trusts have procedures in place to follow the guidance on IPC published by NHS England and Improvement in April, which includes a board assurance framework.
The information gathered through ESF will be used to monitor risk and identify where providers may need additional support to ensure they are delivering safe care.
The CQC is also addressing how to re-visit providers to complete some well-led inspections.