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What does the CQC do?

07 January 2021


  • CQC

Last edited: March 2022

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) independently inspects health and social care services to ensure they meet the fundamental standards of quality and safety. 

The CQC’s aim is to regulate the quality of care services in England and for any organisations rating poorly, encouraging them to improve.

What are the fundamental standards of care?

There are 5 CQC standards used to inspect and regulate services. These are:

  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Caring
  • Responsive
  • Well-led

If you’d like to read more about these key questions, take a look at our blog ‘What are the 5 CQC standards?’.


What does the CQC do to ensure these standards are met?

The CQC rates organisations against each of the 5 key questions above, as well as giving an overall rating. These ratings range from inadequate, requires improvement, good, and outstanding. Any member of the public can look up a service provider on the CQC’s website and see their ratings.


Inspection types

To determine ratings for organisations, the CQC carry out visits where they talk to staff and service users in order to gain a holistic view of the care given. There are 2 types of inspection:

  • Comprehensive – these are regularly carried out on health and social care services to ensure they’re providing care that meets the 5 key questions; safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led.
  • Focused – carried out less frequently than comprehensive inspections, focused inspections take place if the CQC are concerned about something, or if there’s a change in a provider’s circumstances such as an acquisition. It’s important to note that focused inspections don’t always involve all 5 key questions.


Service types

The CQC inspects many different service types, which means that to ensure people are provided with safe effective care, some different elements need to be monitored.


NHS trusts

When inspecting NHS trusts, the CQC focus on eight core services where they apply each of the five key questions. These are:

  • Surgery
  • Critical care
  • Medical care
  • A&E
  • Maternity and gynaecology
  • End of life care
  • Service for children and young people
  • Outpatient services and diagnostic imaging

Each of these core services will always be examined during an inspection, as long as the hospitals provide them. This means that not all services provided by NHS trusts are necessarily inspected.


NHS GP practices

By inspecting the quality of care in six population groups of people, the CQC ensures they can present information about services relevant to the local population, and monitor the outcomes of care for people, including those who are vulnerable. When GP out-of-hours services are inspected, these population groups aren’t taken into account. The population groups are people who are:

  • Older
  • Suffering from long-term health conditions
  • Families, with children and young people
  • Working age
  • In circumstances may make them vulnerable
  • Experiencing poor mental health


How is an inspection carried out?

An inspection starts with a meeting with senior staff members where the inspector or inspection team explain who they are, the reason for the inspection including what it involves, and how they will show their results.

If the inspection is of an acute hospital, GP practise or GP out-of-hours, it begins with the care provider presenting their own view of their performance.

After the initial stage, the CQC gathers evidence. They structure their visit to focus on the Quality Statements and any areas performing particularly well or poorly.

Evidence is collected by speaking to people who use the services. This can be individually and in groups, looking at complaints and concerns of the service users, comment cards or pop up stalls. The inspectors also collate information from staff, and may observe care, review records, look at documents and policies, and more.

The end of the visit involves the inspection team providing a feedback session with senior staff. They present a summary of their findings, pinpointing any issues and actions needed, then show any plans for further announced visits and how they will make their judgements and publish them. 

If an organisation is found to be inadequate, the CQC informs them that they must improve or they risk being closed down. If an organisation is found to be good or outstanding, a member of the public looking for care for either themselves or a loved one is more likely to get in touch.


How can Radar Healthcare help you improve your CQC rating?

At Radar Healthcare, we understand that a visit from the CQC can be daunting. That’s why our software is both focused on the service users to help deliver safe, effective and person-centred care, and built around software users to ensure it’s simple to implement and apply in your organisation.

CQC inspections are changing, with digital playing a large role. Whether you’re using paper-based techniques, or spreadsheets, now is the time to move away from these manual methods and get ahead of the game with Radar Healthcare.

To find out more about how Radar Healthcare can help you improve your CQC rating, take a look at our free guide, or book a consultation with our expert team.

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