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Keep up to date with the latest news, research and activity in patient safety


Integrated care systems to be CQC-rated, says Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said integrated care systems (ICS) will be rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The government’s recent white paper for a new NHS bill did not discuss any change in the CQC’s legal framework to allow it to rate ICSs, which sparked uncertainty around how ICSs would be regulated.

However, speaking in the House of Commons today of the “crucial” role the regulator plays in rating hospitals, Mr Hancock said: “I think that it is vital that the CQC has a similar role when it comes to ICSs.”

The CQC has not confirmed what, if any, legal changes it is seeking. Currently, if the regulator wants to inspect how well a system is working, it must ask permission from the secretary of state to do so.

It has carried out around 25 inspections of systems since 2017, but has not issued ratings.

Giving evidence at a Parliamentary committee meeting earlier today, Sir Robert Francis, Healthwatch England chair, said: “A rating [from the CQC] that summarises the performance of the organisation to the public is a form of accountability. It doesn’t affect patient choice in quite the same way as a provider rating does, but it may be a way of explaining to the public how their system is doing.”

He added that if inspectors are “continually being directed to go to the places the secretary of state chooses” then they may not carry the authority or credibility of an independent process.

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Source: HSJ, 2 March 2021

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NHS reforms risk sowing confusion and undermining safety, MPs warned

A bid for more control over the NHS by ministers risks undermining patient safety and sowing confusion over who is ultimately responsible for services, MPs have been warned.

The Commons Health Select Committee was told the proposals, set out in a new white paper published last month, lacked detail on the involvement of patients in local services and needed urgent clarification of the new powers the health secretary will have.

The plans will give ministers new powers over the independent Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), including being able to tell it what to investigate and the power to remove protections for NHS staff who give evidence in secret.

Last week experts warned the plans for HSIB could undermine its role and have lasting consequences on efforts to encourage NHS staff to be honest about errors. Under the proposals the health secretary would be able to remove so-called “safe space” protections for evidence given by NHS workers.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told the committee hospitals were worried about the plans.

He said: “We are very nervous about this relationship between the secretary of state and HSIB. In order for it to be an effective independent organisation, it does need to be free from the appearance of any kind of political control. There's a very high degree of nervousness about the ability to somehow switch safe space on and off. People need to know where they stand.”

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Source: The Independent, 2 March 2021

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