Emerging concerns protocol

Published: 15 June 2021 Page last updated: 7 February 2024

The protocol is for health and social care regulators and others with a role in the quality and safety of health and care. It provides a process to share information that may indicate risks to people using services, their carers, families or professionals.

The protocol strengthens existing arrangements, providing a clear mechanism for raising concerns and ensuring a collaborative approach to any proposed actions.

It was developed under the governance of the Health and Social Care Regulators Forum.

Read the full document

Signatories to the protocol

  • Care Quality Commission
  • General Dental Council
  • General Medical Council
  • General Osteopathic Council
  • General Pharmaceutical Council
  • General Chiropractic Council
  • General Optical Council
  • Health and Care Professions Council
  • Health Services Safety Investigations Body
  • Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
  • Social Work England

CQC hosts the Maternity and Newborns Safety Investigation programme, which can feed intelligence and expertise into protocol's use, subject to data sharing agreements and legislation.

The National Guardian's Office is affiliated to the protocol and NHS England is also closely aligned with it.

Using the protocol

A signatory should use the protocol when there might be a risk to people using services, their families and carers, or professionals, and where it would be useful to share that risk with other signatories. No piece of information is too small to share.

The protocol compliments the National Quality Board's Guidance by providing a safe space for signatories to discuss emerging concerns that have regulatory implications.

The process

  1. An organisation has a concern that they decide needs to be shared with another regulator or regulators
  2. A Regulatory Review Panel meeting is set up, coordinated, chaired and minuted by the reporting organisation
  3. The outcomes of the review are recorded and shared with all signatories

Where appropriate, the outcomes will also be shared with those with key responsibilities under the Integrated Care System quality governance arrangements.

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