Health and social care regulators sign up to the Emerging Concerns Protocol

The CQC has published the Emerging Concerns Protocol developed under the governance of the Health and Social Care Regulators' Forum.

The Protocol aims to provide a process for health and social care regulators to share information that may indicate risks to people using services, their carers, families or professionals. It strengthens existing arrangements, providing a clear mechanism for raising concerns and ensuring a collaborative approach to any proposed actions.

The Protocol has the support of NHS England and NHS Improvement and has been signed by regulators and professional bodies – you can see the full list of signatories to the Protocol here. The signatories are aware that the Protocol may need to be updated once we have a Health and Care Bill.

A set of principles underpin the Protocol – with nine principles in total – agreed by all signatories. They are:

  • The organisations involved should work to model an open culture in which staff can speak up about concerns
  • The organisations involved should be transparent about how the protocol is used, while maintaining confidentiality of content (in all directions, including the National Quality Board, providers, public, registrants)
  • The organisations are explicit about confidentiality agreements and parameters (including working with information shared by third parties)
  • The organisations involved shall maintain and respect each individual organisation’s executive autonomy
  • The protocol must work within the law, including any restrictions on information sharing that are included in each signatory’s statutory role
  • The protocol should be short and simple, with a focus on feasibility
  • The protocol will be developed through a collaborative, partnership approach between organisations
  • No issue will be too small for an organisation to consider using the protocol
  • The model developed should be linked to other tools in the system, such as the Quality Risk Profiling Tool and existing Memoranda of Understanding

Comment

The Protocol recognises that while information sharing between organisations does happen sometimes it can be ‘inconsistent and too slow’ to prevent people receiving poor care. The Protocol has been designed to provide a framework that is sufficiently flexible in its approach to raising concerns and safeguarding issues, and to work alongside other structures and agreements in place. The early identification of concerns will support the overall delivery of high-quality care at this crucial time of transition to Integrated Care Systems.

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