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CQC launches consultation on the future of regulating, inspecting and rating specialist substance misuse services England

22 January 2015
  • Media

The Care Quality Commission is asking people for their views on proposed plans for inspecting and rating substance misuse services

Specialist substance misuse services for people who misuse alcohol and drugs offer treatment in inpatient, community and residential settings.

CQC has been developing a new approach to the way it inspects these services. At the heart of the new approach is a commitment to tailor inspections to the issues that matter to people using substance misuse services.

As part of the new approach, CQC proposes to make greater use of people’s views and care experiences; and ensure that the areas of care and treatment looked at will include people who are in vulnerable circumstances or from specific and ‘seldom heard’ population groups, such as people with complex needs.

CQC’s proposed approach also involves using clinical and other experts, such as inspectors with further training in substance misuse treatment services and people with experience of receiving care (Experts by Experience), as part of inspection teams. Inspections will also examine transitions between services.

Commenting the proposals CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: ‘This consultation sets out a step change in the way that substance and drug and alcohol treatment centres have been inspected, looking at whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led.

‘We are proposing to take a more tailored approach to this complex sector and look at the issues that matter to it. We will use inspectors with further training about substance misuse services in our inspection teams and we want to make sure we ask people who are receiving care about their treatment.

‘In our handbook, we also propose to look at the treatment of people who may be in especially vulnerable circumstances or who are from specific population groups, to make sure they are getting the quality care that they deserve.’

CQC’s new approach to inspecting these services will start from April 2015. Initially, standalone independent substance misuse services will be inspected and rated. CQC will continue to test the feasibility and scope of inspecting and separately rating substance misuse services offered by other providers, for example NHS mental health and acute trusts and GP practices, throughout 2015 with a view to rolling this out once the current inspection cycle for these providers ends.

The consultation can be found here


For media enquiries, contact CQC’s press office on 020 7448 9401, during office hours, or, out of hours, on 07789 876508. For general enquiries, call 03000 61 61 61. 

Last updated:
30 May 2017

Notes to editors


About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.