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CQC sets out plans for community inspections

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The Care Quality Commission has announced the first five organisations that will be inspected under a raft of new checks on community services, in which nurses feature heavily.

The new inspection programme will include checks on district nursing, health visiting, school nursing, specialist nursing services for long-term conditions and end-of-life care delivered at home.

The regulator said its starting point will be inspections of large organisations that provide a wide range of services. The five organisations, to be inspected between January and March, are:

  • Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Central Essex Community Services
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust
  • Solent NHS Trust
  • St Georges Healthcare NHS Trust

The community inspection teams will be larger than usual and include expert CQC inspectors, service users and relevant clinicians – for example, district nurses, community nurses, health visitors.

The regular said patient experience would be “at the heart” of its assessments of community services.

Key issues will include access to services out of hours, home care and support, preventing admission and re-admission, long-term conditions management, integration across health and care services, and sharing of medical records.

The plans are set out in a document titled A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of community health care, published on 19 December.

It says the CQC will eventually identify a set of services that it will always inspect for a community health provider.

For the first inspections, these will be services for children and families, adults with long-term conditions, adults requiring community inpatient services and people receiving end-of-life care.

The CQC said that once it had tested its inspection approach for the first five providers, it would consider how to adapt it to smaller community healthcare providers in the independent and voluntary sectors.

The regulator stated: “We will learn from the first group of inspections and… explore whether this is the best approach, and also do more detailed work to describe what good and outstanding care looks like for these services.”

The inspection programme will be led by CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards.

Mike Richards

He said: “We have not given enough specific attention to community health services in the past, so I am determined to strengthen our oversight of the sector and develop a picture of the quality of care that is so important in many people’s lives.”

The regulator has previously called on community staff to help by alerting it if they have concerns about services. 

A CQC national professional advisor told a conference in 2012 that working in the community could be “extremely difficult” for the regulator, describing it as a “secluded” part of the health and social care system.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • michael stone

    I'm still waiting for the CQC to get back to me with an explanation of why the inspection of District Nurses falls to Mike Richards, while the inspection of GPs falls to Steve Field. GPs and DNs work in the community, so I don't see much 'coherence' in Mike, who is the inspector for hospitals, having DNs within his remit.

    'Because DNs are commonly employed by hospital trusts' isn't a logically coherent answer, in my opinion.

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