Health regulator to licence NNUH without conditions
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) today announces plans to give the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust an unconditional licence to provide services under a new, tougher system for regulating standards in the NHS.
From 1 April, 381 NHS trusts in England will have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission by law to provide care. To be registered, trusts must show they meet new essential standards of quality and safety, which the regulator will constantly monitor.
The new standards cover important issues for patients such as treating people with respect, involving them in decisions about care, keeping clinical areas clean, and ensuring services are safe.
Where it finds trusts are not meeting standards, the regulator has stronger enforcement powers than ever before. This can start with a warning notice and escalate to fines, prosecution, restrictions on activities or in extreme cases, closure.
To decide where to target regulatory activity, CQC will draw together intelligence and information about NHS care from a range of sources, creating quality-and-risk profiles for every trust in the country.
The regulator is also promising to take more account of the views of the public, gathering systematically the views of local patient groups and ensuring that patients have greater involvement in inspections.
Under the new system, trusts will be judged on the outcomes and experiences of patients, not just whether there are systems and processes in place.
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Anna Dugdale said: Our staff are dedicated to providing high quality care that is safe and effective. We are delighted that the Care Quality Commission has recognised this by licensing our hospitals without conditions. We will continue to work hard to make sure our patients get the very best care.
Numbers of inspections at NHS trusts are set to rise significantly, with up to 2,000 reviews of compliance a year, the majority involving a visit. Inspections will involve observation of care, tracking of case studies and talking to patients and staff.
CQC says it will be proportionate, targeting resources at areas of concern and minimising inspection where organisations perform well. As a minimum, it will review every two years all trusts performance against the 16 standards that relate most closely to quality and safety.
The regulator will prioritise regulatory action at those trusts with conditions on their registration. Trusts must meet deadlines for improvements or risk enforcement action.
However, CQC stresses that trusts may still need to make improvements where conditions have not been imposed.
For example, there are standards where the regulator has evidence of concerns but the trust has provided a credible action plan. There are other instances where CQC is following up on information provided by the public.
CQC says that it will be constantly monitoring and adding to the picture of performance of an organisation, taking action as appropriate.
In October this year, the new registration system will be extended to cover independent healthcare and adult social care providers, which are currently registered with CQC under a different system. For the first time, all these organisations will have to comply with a common set of essential standards.
From April 2011, the registration system is set to cover dentists and private ambulances. From April 2012, it is set to include primary medical care services such as GPs and private midwives.
Notes to editors
Registration: The Health and Social Care Act 2008 introduced a new, single registration system that applies to both health and adult social care. The new system will make sure that people can expect services to meet new essential standards of quality and safety that respect their dignity and protect their rights. The new system is focused on outcomes, rather than systems and processes, and places the views and experiences of people who use services at its centre.
From April 2010, all health and adult social care providers will be required by law to be registered with CQC and must show that they are meeting the essential standards. Registration isnt just about initial application for registration. CQC will continuously monitor compliance with the essential standards as part of a new, more dynamic, responsive and robust system of regulation.