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