Update to CQC's regulatory approach: changes from 1 February

Published: 27 January 2022 Page last updated: 12 May 2022

Throughout the pandemic we have kept our regulatory approach under review. This is in recognition of the changing pressures health and social care services find themselves working under. Our priority has always been to support services to ensure people receive safe care. We want to ensure our approach is appropriate and proportionate.

In December, we postponed inspections of some services to support the acceleration of the vaccination booster programme. We also prioritised activity to help create more capacity in adult social care.

Considering the current situation – including the easing of restrictions across the country – we have reviewed and updated our regulatory approach. From 1 February we will inspect where:

  • there is evidence that people are at risk of harm. This applies to all health and social care services, including those where inspections were previously postponed except in cases where we had evidence of risk to life
  • we can support increasing capacity across the system, particularly in adult social care
  • a focus on the urgent and emergency care system will help us understand the pressures, where local or national support is needed, and share good practice to drive improvement.

We will restart work to coordinate our approach to inspecting urgent and emergency care pathways. Where we identify risk, we will look at how services across a system are working together. This will help us understand where the pressures are and any needs for local or national support. We will share the good practice we see to help drive change and improvement that could benefit people using services and staff delivering care.

Much of our approach is unchanged and remains in line with the update from our Chief Inspectors on 10 December 2021.

This includes:

  • achieving our ambition to complete 1,000 infection prevention and control (IPC) inspections in adult social care
  • rapid response to requests to set up new Designated Settings
  • activity to rate adult social care services that are registered and not yet rated
  • inspections of adult social care providers currently rated as Requires Improvement to identify where improvement has taken place and re-rate where possible.

Alongside our risk-based activity we will undertake ongoing monitoring of services. This helps to identify where we may need to take further action to ensure people are receiving safe care and offer support to providers. It also remains important that people share concerns or examples of good practice. We encourage this feedback from those working in health and social care and people using services.

We continue to work in collaboration with people who use services, health and social care professionals and other partners to develop our future regulatory approach, in line with our new strategy. We're grateful for the time people have taken to get involved in this work to date. To share your views or to get involved as we develop our approach further, sign up to our digital engagement platform. You can also find out more in our regular email bulletins, podcasts, blogs and videos.

Thank you to everyone working in health and social services. We have a shared goal to deliver safe, good quality care. We recognise the sustained pressure you are working under and that you are making difficult decisions daily. We are committed to supporting providers that are taking balanced, risk-based decisions that keep the safety and wishes of people using their services at their core.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care

Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care