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New approach to inspections of substance misuse services to be rolled out following public consultation

22 July 2015
  • Public

Today, we have published a handbook that sets out how we will inspect and regulate the specialist services that care for and look after people who have substance misuse problems.

Our inspections will include expert inspection teams and make greater use of a range of intelligence, including people’s views and experiences of care. They will include a focus on those who are in vulnerable circumstances or from specific population groups and be structured around what matters most to people who use services – are they safe, caring, effective, responsive to their needs, and well-led.

Setting out how we will regulate substance misuse services follows on from changes that we already have made and introduced to how we monitor, regulate inspect care homes, GPs, dentists and NHS acute and mental health hospitals.

This month, we are announcing the first independent standalone substance misuse services that we will inspect using our new approach from October. Initially, we will inspect these services without rating them. Our ambition is to rate these services as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate in the future so that people have clear information about how their services are performing.

Also, we will look at how we inspect and rate substance misuse services offered by other providers, for example NHS trusts, GP practices and other independent providers with a view to rolling this out once the current inspection cycle for these providers ends.

The publication of our handbook follows a consultation earlier this year, when we asked the public, providers, commissioners and their representatives to help shape how we should regulate these services so that people can get safe, high-quality and compassionate care.

We received helpful feedback from a range of individuals and organisations, which we’ve also summarised and published on our website.

Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (lead for mental health), said: "Our new regulatory model will put the experiences and views of users of specialist substance misuse services at the heart of how we judge these services so people can be clear about the quality of services they are receiving and to help drive improvement.

"We have developed our regulatory model with people who use services, care providers, substance misuse experts, national partners and our staff. I would like to thank those who have taken the time and effort to respond during our consultation and participate in our various events to help us to develop our strengthened approach.

“While the inspections will initially be without ratings, our ambition is to rate these services in the future and we are working with the Department of Health to clarify our powers in order to do so. It is important that we inspect these services as thoroughly as the other sectors that we regulate such as acute hospitals or care homes. My priority is to make sure that people using substance misuse services, who may have more complex needs , particular vulnerabilities or be from different groups in society, receive care that is safe, effective, high-quality and compassionate."

Last updated:
29 May 2017