Independent nursing services will be given performance ratings by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the first time, the Government has announced.
The decision follows a public consultation on the matter, which was held between September and November 2017. The new regulations will come into force in April.
The Department of Health (DH) will grant the CQC powers to rate even more services, so that it becomes the ‘default’ way that the regulator presents the judgements from its inspections.
The move will bring all independent community health services and independent doctors within the scope of the CQC’s ratings scheme.
The regulator already inspects and publishes reports on such services but has not previously issued them with a rating.
The CQC currently rates NHS and independent hospitals, general practices and adult social care services as either ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.
Health visitor services, community nursing, sexual health clinics and small inpatient units will all be given ratings under the new system, as well as vaccination clinics, family planning clinics, slimming clinics and private GP surgeries – including walk-in centres – that do not have NHS contracts.
Around 30 independent primary care providers that offer healthcare, such as medical advice and prescriptions, online or digitally will also be covered by the extension of the CQC’s powers.
As a result of the move, the CQC will now develop an approach for how it will rate the additional services and expects to launch a public consultation on the topic in early 2018.
‘This includes introducing a more responsive, intelligence-driven approach to regulation, with improved monitoring and inspection activity focused where risk is greatest or quality is improving,’ the DH said.
The CQC will continue to inspect these services and publish its findings in the meantime.
However, there will remain a few services regulated by CQC that will be exempt from ratings. These include minor cosmetic surgery, national screening programmes, hyperbaric chambers, blood and transplant services, and services licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.