The regulation of health and social care organisations in England is the responsibility of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). CQC regulatory activities include the routine monitoring of services, a programme of expert inspections, and the publication of inspection reports and quality ratings.

In order to achieve and maintain their registration with the CQC, providers must comply with the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. These include “fundamental standards” below which care is not allowed to fall.

CQC inspections are based upon a five “key-question” test, asking if a service is:

  • safe

  • effective

  • caring

  • responsive

  • well-led.

Inspections focus on the views and experiences of service users in terms of whether they are receiving safe, effective, person-centred care. Inspectors check that the fundamental standards are being met. They also have considerable enforcement powers to deal with poorly performing services.

Note that in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the CQC has adopted a transitional model that seeks to regulate services by increased use “remote” monitoring while keeping on-site visits to a minimum. Where visits must be made, the CQC state that inspectors will work with providers and take all due precautions to avoid the risk of virus transmission.

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