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Independent healthcare services

  • Organisations we regulate

We define independent healthcare services as health care provided by organisations that are not NHS trusts or NHS GP services (that is, private sector services).

Examples are private corporations or companies, charities, social enterprises, voluntary and faith-based organisations and individual providers of care. This includes:

  • independent acute hospitals
  • single specialty termination of pregnancy services
  • single specialty acute long term conditions services
  • single specialty dialysis services
  • single specialty hyperbaric services
  • single specialty refractive eye surgery services
  • single specialty diagnostic imaging services
  • single specialty endoscopy services
  • single specialty laboratory services
  • blood and transplant services
  • independent ambulance services
  • independent hospices
  • independent community services
  • independent mental health hospitals
  • independent standalone substance misuse services

A ‘single specialty’ is where the sole or main purpose of the service is to provide the speciality specified above.

Most fertility treatments that need to be licensed with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) do not come within the scope of registration with CQC. If a service is registered with CQC and also licensed with the HFEA, we will only inspect and rate the parts of the service that are within CQC scope. This does not include treatments to assist conception and those that are licensed by the HFEA.

This guidance applies to all independent healthcare services with the exception of:

1. Independent doctors and clinics that provide primary medical, mental health and non-hospital acute services. There is separate guidance for these providers.

2. Providers of community healthcare and/or mental health care (typically community interest companies (CIC)) that deliver multiple services to people in a specific geographical area, similar to an NHS trust. We will follow our regulatory approach for NHS trusts for these providers.

The first inspection of community healthcare providers in this category will be a comprehensive inspection. This is to establish an initial baseline rating as we now have powers to rate these services. For subsequent inspections, and for inspections of mental health care providers that meet these criteria, we will inspect the five key questions in at least one core service annually, followed by an inspection of how well-led a provider is. Please see How we monitor, inspect and regulate NHS trusts for further details.

Last updated:
04 April 2019