The independent regulator of health and social care in England.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) play a pivotal role in maintaining standards and best practice across a wide spectrum of healthcare establishments, including hospitals, clinics, care homes and hospices.

The CQC make sure health and social care services provide safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and they encourage care services to improve. They manage this by:

  • Involving the public
  • Registration
  • Intelligent monitoring
  • Inspecting and regulating care services
  • Protecting the rights of patients and vulnerable people
  • Reporting on the quality of care services
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Involving the public

In addition to incorporating clinical guidelines, the CQC involve a wide variety of people to help devise suitable regulations. This includes the public, people who receive care in their work, and those who work in partnership with other organisations or local groups.


The CQC are the regulatory body that deals with the registration of healthcare organisations. They have strict guidelines in place to ensure only suitable organisations are registered. Governing the regulations required to register, and maintain registration, as a member of the healthcare community, allows the CQC a much better scope to uphold quality and patient safety.

Intelligent monitoring

The CQC continuously gathers and analyses information about services, which involves obtaining data from sources including patients, staff and self-reporting. This is used to determine when, where and what services to inspect. Ratings are used by the CQC to measure the regulatory compliance of a service and are awarded on a four-point scale: outstanding, good, requires improvement, or inadequate for each of the five key questions.

Inspecting and regulating care services

The CQC inspect healthcare establishments to make sure they are offering the required standard of care to patients and their processes are adequate for their purpose. They continuously monitor healthcare organisations to ensure standards are maintained. They have the power to shut down any organisation that is not adhering to the required regulations and best practice standards.

Protecting the rights of patients and vulnerable people

The CQC aim to protect vulnerable people including those whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act. They do this by ensuring that safeguarding procedures are being implemented and taking robust action if suitable arrangements are not in place.

Reporting on the quality of care services

The CQC publish clear and comprehensive information, including performance ratings to help people choose care. Reporting hospitals with excellent standards is just as important as reporting the under performing hospitals. Having a good or bad report from the CQC can drastically effect your reputation in the healthcare community.

The CQC’s Fundamental Standards

On 1st April 2015, the CQC introduced its ‘Fundamental Standards of Quality and Safety’ for all health and social care services.  These replaced the 28 CQC Regulations and Outcomes.

The new regulations are designed to be clearer statements of the standards below which care should never fall.

What are the CQC’s ‘Fundamental Standards’?

  • Person-centred care
  • Dignity and respect
  • Need for consent
  • Self-care and treatment
  • Safeguarding service users from abuse and improper treatment
  • Meeting nutritional and hydration needs
  • Cleanliness, safety, and suitability of premises and equipment
  • Receiving and acting upon complaints
  • Good governance
  • Staffing
  • Fit and proper persons employed
  • Duty of candour; and requirement to display CQC performance ratings

‘Outcomes’ have been exchanged for compliance guidance on the intentions and requirements for each fundamental standard. Notably, there is no longer a specific regulation for medicine management, although the fundamental standards cover all aspects of medication management.

The CQC website provides further information about meeting the new regulations and the Fundamental Standards

The CQC’s new assessment framework

The CQC assesses services using a framework based on five key questions:

  • Safe?
  • Effective?
  • Caring?
  • Responsive to people’s needs?
  • Well led?

Guidance about the way that services are regulated and inspected is given in Provider Handbooks

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