Professor Ted Baker Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Care Quality Commission
Across all health and care services, CQC inspections shine a light on quality, enable the public to have confidence in the services they use, and highlight to providers where they need to take action to improve standards of care. Our inspections of nHS hospital services to date have shown many are delivering excellent care and where we have found concerns, we have seen evidence of hospital trusts taking action to mitigate potential risks and deliver timely improvements. The positive impact of regulation in driving improvement can be seen in the number of trusts that have increased their rating on reinspection. This includes 24 that have exited “special measures” following positive action taken in response to CQC’s inspection findings. The changes made by each hospital are a testament to the effort and determination of the staff involved. As a result, patients across England are receiving better and safer healthcare and providers are running higher quality services. But, the pressure facing nHS trusts continues to mount and we remain concerned about the growing demand for services in a sector where there are known workforce shortages. In some cases, we are seeing the impact of such pressures on patient safety. Urgent and emergency departments for example, continue to bear the brunt as the first point of contact for many people in need of care. The nHS long Term Plan makes a welcome commitment to improve local service integration. Breaking down barriers and co-ordinating the work of general practices, community services and hospitals is essential if we are to meet the needs of growing numbers of people with multiple and often complex medical conditions who receive care and support from a variety of health and social care staff.
In some places we are already seeing the positive impact of effective collaboration between health and care services. But as our local system review work has shown, joined up system working isn’t happening everywhere. Until it is, individual providers will increasingly struggle to cope with demand and we risk quality suffering as a result. Advances in technology also present important opportunities for the future. Digitally enabled care is changing the way services are provided and the potential benefits are significant – for people who use services, families, carers and providers. Regulation must not stand in the way of such developments, but technology and innovation must never come at the expense of high-quality, person-centered care. In an environment of pressure and change, there are many challenges, but there are also opportunities to be grasped. Effective implementation of the workforce plan will be crucial. But alongside this, CQC will continue to play our part in supporting the system to adapt and services to improve, while maintaining our focus on ensuring that people across the country receive safe and effective care. In an environment of pressure and change, there are many challenges, but there are also opportunities to be grasped “ “