Rolling out CQC’s new regulatory approach

Care providers across England are gearing up for CQC’s new Single Assessment Framework (SAF) with this year marking a new chapter for the regulator. Since November 2023 CQC has been rolling out its new SAF region by region with assessments in the North and Midlands the most recent regions to be assessed under the new framework. 

Focus of assessments

During the roll-out period CQC is using a preliminary set of priorities for each type of service. But going forward CQC does intend to define a set of priority quality statements for each type of service nationally and review them on an annual basis.

Typically, they will assess these quality statements in each assessment although they explain that they will be flexible depending on circumstance.

CQC will base these on findings from profiling of services to determine:

  • where there are risks to people using services
  • where services may have improved

CQC confirm that a provider’s first assessment under the new framework will produce scores based on a provider's existing rating. Note that if a provider has not been inspected before, the first assessment will normally cover all 34 quality statements.

Assessment frequency

As to the frequency of assessments for each sector, CQC intends to use learnings from the feedback they received from the providers they assessed  under the new framework together with views of regulatory risk and issues affecting the health and care system. CQC will then decide the order of their planned assessment of providers based on level of risk. They intend to publish a detailed schedule of planned assessments by July 2024.

Registering a new activity

From 27 February 2024, CQC will use their new assessment framework to access applications to register a new activity or service using the new approach (this will also apply to changes to registrations for existing providers).

We understand that new providers applying to register with the CQC will be assessed using questions aligned to the quality statements under the new assessment framework.

New provider portal

Between now and March 2024 CQC are making changes to the way providers interact with the regulator using new digital tools, including a new provider portal. The portal will be used by providers when submitting statutory notifications and completing some registration activity.

CQC has started inviting users of the existing portal to join the new portal and they will invite all existing users by the end of February 2024.

If you've received an invite to join the new portal, CQC are encouraging providers to sign up now without delay. Currently only those who have been invited can join the new portal. But from the start of March 2024 any provider can register on the new portal and set up their account.

CQC’s digital offer for providers

Providers can expect to see new tools to facilitate a faster, easier, and more streamlined way to share information with CQC:

  • Clearer online forms: general enquiries, mental health complaints, requests for a second opinion appointed doctor (SOAD) and cancelling a registration.
  • Email and smart link: submit evidence for factual accuracy checks and any enforcement activity.

Getting ready for these changes

  • Make sure all the contact details CQC hold for your organisation are correct (you'll need to sign up to the new portal using an email address CQC have on record)
  • Watch the introduction to the new provider portal
  • As soon as you receive an invite, sign up to CQC’s new portal
  • If you don't receive an invite to the new portal, sign up as soon as you can from the start of March 2024
  • Do continue to engage with CQC's call for feedback and share your experiences

Integrated care systems assessments

CQC plan to start their assessment of ICSs in the spring after they complete their two pilot assessments. They are currently seeking feedback on how health and social care providers will use the ICS assessment reports and what they should focus on within them. You can share your feedback using this survey.

Our regulatory team has extensive experience supporting providers with CQC matters - do get in touch with the team

Our content explained

Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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