What is the Care Quality Commission and why is everybody talking about it?
With the registration process looming over every dental practice this month, it is essential that we at least know the basics about the latest change to Dentistry- the introduction of the Care Quality Commission.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of all health and adult social care in England, also described as the health watchdog. The aim of the CQC is to make sure that better care is provided for everyone in every environment of care including hospitals, care homes and dental practices. The CQC state that they have a vision and that vision is to provide high quality health and social care to everybody in England.
The CQC have announced that all dental practices must be registered before 1st April 2011 if they wish to continue providing dental care. Registration is compulsory to all branches of Dentistry so NHS, Private, Mixed, Orthodontic and Emergency Practices are all more or less in the same boat. There is great concern that the CQC registration combined with the strict new regulations introduced by HTM 01/05 will be too much for some smaller dental practices to handle, resulting in many practices being forced to shut down. The main reasons for this unfortunate prediction being financial and also practical- not many practices have the room for a separate sterilisation room with 3 different sinks- something that all practices must aim for according to HTM 01/05. Dental practices, once registered, must comply with a series of outcomes set by the CQC.
So what are the visions and aims of the CQC?
According to the CQC:
The vision is of high quality health and social care which:
• Supports people to live healthy and independent lives.
• Helps people and their carers make informed choices about care.
• Responds to individual needs.
High quality health and social care is defined as:
• Having the right outcomes, including clinical outcomes (E.g. do people get the right treatment and are they well cared for?)
• A good experience for the people who use it, their carers’ and their families.
• Helping to prevent illness, and promote healthy, independent living.
• Being available to those who need it, when they need it.
• Providing good value for money.
The values of the CQC are to:
• Put the people who use services first, be informed by what the people tell them and to stand up for their rights and dignity.
• Be independent.
• Be expert and authoritative, basing their actions on high quality evidence.
• Be a champion for joined up care across services.
• Work with service providers and the professions to agree definitions of quality.
• Be visible, open, transparent and accountable.
What are their priorities?
The CQC have identified five priorities which they believe they need to focus on to bring about visible change and significantly enhance outcomes for people. They state that they will deliver these priorities by carrying out regulatory activities well.
The priorities are as stated:
1. Making sure that care is centred on people’s needs and protects their rights.
The CQC want people to be able to shape their own care around their needs and to have a voice. To do this, people need up-to-date, relevant and accurate information so that they can make informed choices about their care.
2. Championing joined-up care
The CQC want to see better coordinated and integrated health and social care so that the services people receive are joined up and their experience is a good one. They also want better integration within sectors, e.g. across primary and acute services and when young people move up into adult care. They want commissioners and providers of care to work together, and with people who use services, so that outcomes for people are improved.
3. Acting swiftly to help eliminate poor quality care
The CQC believe that people have a right to expect that and if a service falls below the essential standards expected, this is identified and acted on quickly. They want to have a major impact on these poorer services and state that they will focus particularly on those that fail to improve.
4. Promoting high quality care
The CQC believe that people should be able to access and experience high quality services that put them first and respect their rights. Where they identify care that is improving, they state that they will promote this so that other commissioners and providers can learn from what is working well.
5. Regulating effectively, in partnership
The CQC state that they will be sensitive to the requirements that they put on those they regulate. They also state that they will work to the principles of better regulation and will frequently show their progress in doing so. Additionally, that they will work with other organisations to improve the quality of life for communities and local people, and make sure that the benefits they bring to people significantly outweigh their costs and those incurred by others, in meeting their expectations.
So why is the CQC causing such controversy?
Despite these visions, aims and priorities, most Dentists feel like the CQC is unnecessary in Dentistry as we are already aiming for the highest standards of care and service anyway. We already have existing governance and regulations, so there are a lot of Dentists and DCP's finding this additional body completely unnecessary. Many Dentists have written letters of complaint and expressed their views in journals and on websites. The latest controversy is the CQC announcing that a consultation will take place to discuss the charging structure, which Dentists are invited to contribute to. Seeing as most Dentists completely disagree with having to pay a penny to the CQC, it is unclear as to whether this will help. Dentists have been informed by the CQC that there is no charge to register with them at this moment in time; however charges will be unavoidable from next April. According to the CQC, the fees cover the registration of all service providers and also the overseeing of their compliance with the essential levels of safety and quality.
For more information on the CQC you can visit www.cqc.org.uk.