CQC publish provider collaboration reviews looking at cancer services and care for people with a learning disability

Published: 21 July 2021 Page last updated: 12 May 2022

We have published 2 new reports as part of our series of provider collaboration reviews (PCRs).

The reports focus on:

Our PCRs look at how health and social care providers are working together in local areas. They aim to help providers learn from each other’s experience of responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ensuring the provision of cancer services

We looked at cancer care in 8 areas of England in March and April 2021. This was when services were under the severe pressure associated with the second wave of COVID-19.

We wanted to know whether people were getting the right care, at the right time, and in the right place, and how collaboration across local areas had made a difference.

We found that local systems have collaborated in different ways to try and make sure people could continue to access cancer services. We saw some innovative approaches with good outcomes for providers and patients, including online approaches. However, we heard that online solutions are not ideal for some consultations and to make a diagnosis. Systems also worked together to make sure they could identify people who might be in vulnerable groups. Local systems continued to prioritise personalised care despite the impact of the pandemic.

The reviews in the systems included in the PCRs also identified challenges that may be recognised by other systems across England. These included fears of workforce burnout and concerns around the ability of the workforce to manage the backlog of people needing care. COVID-19 presents a risk of widening inequalities among cancer patients. This stems from an absence of system-wide strategy on reducing inequalities in cancer care, compounded by challenges around the capturing and sharing of people’s demographic data. This could be made worse for people without access to digital technology, and those who struggle to travel to centralised hubs.

Working together across system partners to ensure timely access to cancer services for early diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care remains crucial for people using services and will be crucial looking forward.

Care for people with a learning disability living in the community during the pandemic

The second report shares findings from our PCR looking at care in 7 areas of England for people with a learning disability who live in the community.

During the pandemic, we have seen how providers have responded quickly to try and minimise disruption to services for people with a learning disability. Increased use of digital technology has improved collaboration with services and has helped to support people living in the community. Providers also took steps such as redeploying staff and working with voluntary sector services to provide people with additional care and support.

However, we know that one-size does not fit all. What works for one person does not work for everyone. As a result, systems have needed – and continue to need – to work hard to deliver the right care.

The pandemic has introduced some new challenges, but many of the issues emerging from our review are not new. In a lot of cases, the pandemic has simply served to shine a light on pre-existing challenges, gaps and poor-quality care.

Our report presents challenges for systems and health and care providers. These include:

  • Understanding and managing the impact of the pandemic on people with a learning disability, and the long-term effects of service disruption.
  • Considering what steps can be put in place to manage the transition from children to adult services more effectively, in a way that is inclusive for everyone.
  • Offering people a balance of remote and face-to-face care that is individualised to meet their needs. And where digital technology is used, putting steps in place to protect the safety and involvement of people with a learning disability.

The final phase of the PCRs looking at children’s and young people’s mental health services during the pandemic will report later this year.