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New era of inspection for Island health and care services

Friday, 13 August 2021

Improving services and ensuring the safety of patients and service users are the key aims of a new approach to the external inspection of health and social care services Island-wide. 

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to assist in developing a system of independent inspections of Manx Care services, providing assurance to Government and the public that services are safe and of high quality.

The signing of a Service Level Agreement with CQC is a significant step towards delivering on a key recommendation of Sir Jonathan Michel’s independent review of the Island’s health and care system: that regular external inspections should be carried out on services provided directly by Manx Care, or by others on its behalf, reporting back to the Manx Care Board and the DHSC. The Health and Care Transformation Programme is carrying forward Sir Jonathan’s recommendations and has supported the development of an external assurance programme.

CQC will undertake a 16-month programme of work to develop a framework for assessment to inform the development of an independent inspection regime for health and social care in the Island. The preparatory work will take place between now and April 2022, with a first round of ‘on the ground’ inspections between April and October 2022.

Service assurance across health and social care is the responsibility of the new Quality, Safety and Engagement team within DHSC, which will retain responsibility for the Registration and Inspections Team (R&I). The R&I team will continue to inspect a wide range of care services and settings, including those provided by external contractors.

DHSC’s agreement with CQC represents a significant milestone for the department, which is committed to introducing a system of transparent and independent inspection of services.

Alongside existing inspections, the new arrangement will provide external scrutiny and validation to ensure services meet high quality and safety standards and that any problems are identified and resolved. It will also highlight areas and teams which are delivering excellent services.

The CQC’s programme will begin with an initial validation phase, to establish the end-to-end process and baseline for inspections. In phase two an approach to inspections will be developed, and service providers will be asked to share their views. The third phase will see the proposed operating model tested and rolled out, with inspections undertaken by CQC in three key areas: hospitals, primary care services (covering GPs, dental care, minor injuries and out of hours) and adult social care.

The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and social care services in England, with powers to ensure services improve if standards fall below acceptable levels.

CEO of the Care Quality Commission Ian Trenholm said:

‘CQC welcomes the opportunity to provide advice and assistance in developing an independent inspection programme for health and social care services in the Isle of Man. We will be working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and Manx Care to develop and implement an inspection approach aimed at ensuring that services provided in the Island are safe and of a high quality.

He added:

‘We look forward to fostering this new relationship and helping to embed an approach to inspection in the Island that will not only provide assurance that services are safe but also encourage improvement and highlight good practice.’

The same level of scrutiny and feedback will be applied to services in the Isle of Man as to those in England, and the CQC team will also provide professional advice and assistance to Manx Care and DHSC. However, while CQC will inspect, monitor and provide shadow ratings for health and care services in the Island, it will not have the power to enforce change or act as a regulator. This will be the responsibility of DHSC to monitor and ensure that Manx Care is taking appropriate steps to address any issues raised.

Other recognised professional bodies will be engaged to conduct inspections outside of the CQC’s remit, in line with the Manx Care Act. The Registration and Inspections team will continue to ensure that all care services in the Isle of Man comply with the Regulation of Care Act.

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