UK Adopts New Regulation For Health Care Providers

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A new framework to regulate the safety and quality of health and social care services was published today by the Department of Health, ahead of the new Care Quality Commission came into effect on 1 April 2009.

From 2010/11, the Care Quality Commission will register all providers of health and adult social care services against a single set of registration requirements that are focused on the safety and quality of care. Without registering with the Care Quality Commission, it will be illegal for health and adult social care organisations to provide services that are in the scope of the new framework. To maintain their registration, providers will need to demonstrate an ongoing ability to meet all the requirements.

In addition, primary medical and primary dental care will also be brought into regulation by the Care Quality Commission. Given the increasing range of services offered in primary care, including minor operations and other services traditionally provided in hospitals, it is important that patients have the same degree of protection, regardless of where they receive their care. This means that, for the first time, all 8500 GP practices and 9000 high street dental practices will be required to register with the Care Quality Commission, regardless of whether they provide solely private, solely NHS services, or a mix of both.

Although GPs and other healthcare professionals are already individually registered by their professional governing bodies, this framework will give further reassurance to patients that they are protected. The Department of Health is working with relevant stakeholders to consider further how the new registration system will interact with existing regulation in this area.

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Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw said: "The way that health and adult social care services are being delivered is changing. The same person may well receive care from both health and social care providers in a range of settings including at their GP surgery, community or residential settings, hospital or from a range of public or independent providers.

"This is the first time that one single registration framework will ensure that the health and adult social care services people receive will be safe and of a high quality regardless of which organisation is providing it."

Cynthia Bower, Chief Executive, Care Quality Commission said: "We are pleased that the response to the Department of Health's consultation is now published and we can take the draft regulations into our discussions with stakeholders to develop our methods for implementing the new registration system. The new system provides a historic opportunity and we are determined to ensure that we expand on the work done to date by the Department and build a robust framework of assurance of quality across all of health and social care."

This new system replaces the different sets of existing requirements and standards for each different provider - whether they are from the NHS, local authority, independent or voluntary sectors. The registration requirements provide flexibility for care providers, setting out what they must do, but not stipulating how they must do it.

The Department of Health has consulted widely to bring together the most appropriate regulations to enable the system to work effectively for health and adult social care, whilst also reflecting differences in the nature of services delivered by providers, for example, differences between how hospitals and residential care homes provide services.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, the registration system will be introduced from 2010/11. For the NHS, registration with the Care Quality Commission against requirements on healthcare associated infections (HCAI) will be implemented from April 2009.

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