Skip to main content

Health: Adult Social Care

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2008

My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Ben Bradshaw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today we are publishing a consultation document, which is the latest stage in the development of the new system we are introducing for the regulation of health and adult social care.

The Future Regulation of Health and Adult Social Care in England: A Consultation on the Framework for the Registration of Health and Adult Social Care Providers takes forward our commitment to provide a clear and refocused approach to regulation of the health and adult social care systems.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the Health and Social Care Bill will establish the Care Quality Commission. From April 2009, the new commission will take over the functions of the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and the Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC).

The Care Quality Commission will be an organisation responsible for regulating services across the health and social care sectors which spend over £100 billion of public money and involve about 2.9 million people employed in delivery of services in over 25,000 establishments.

Integration of care pathways—across different healthcare providers and between health and social care—and variety in types of service provision are both increasing. Greater joined-up working will provide better outcomes for patients and service users. But service users and patients want to be assured that all the services they receive are fair, personal, effective and safe, wherever they are provided. An integrated and flexible regulatory system that focuses on the needs of service users will help provide the consistency and assurance that the public expect and enable local service innovation.

The Bill defines the functions of the Care Quality Commission in safety and quality assurance, periodic review of commissioners and providers, monitoring the operation of the Mental Health Act and ensuring that regulation and inspection activity across health and adult social care is co-ordinated and managed.

This consultation seeks views on which health and adult social care services should require registration with the Care Quality Commission and what the requirements for registration should be. Without registering with the Care Quality Commission, it will be illegal for health and adult social care organisations to provide services that come within the scope of registration. The registration requirements will therefore cover essential levels of safety and quality. The scope and requirements for registration will be set in secondary legislation, following a further consultation on regulations later in the year.

The consultation also seeks views on when providers of regulated services should be required to have a registered manager, and how primary care services should be included in the new registration system. The document sets out plans for transition to the new registration system: the new registration system will come into force from April 2010 with the exception of regulations on healthcare-associated infections, which will come into force during 2009-10.

The registration system will operate alongside a wider quality improvement framework that encourages not just good care, but excellent care. The Care Quality Commission’s general role within that wider quality improvement system is clear from the Health and Social Care Bill and includes provision for its periodic reviews to provide information to the public about the general quality of service providers across health and adult social care. The rest of the system around the new commission—the role of standard setting for improvement, knowledge management, incentives, commissioning and other “levers”—is the subject of the NHS Next Stage Review, which is due to report by the end of June.

This publication will be of interest to anyone working in health and adult social care and to patients and service users who are interested in how the reforms are going to improve the services they use.

I commend this document to the House.

Today’s publication and the impact assessment have been placed in the Library. Copies of the publication are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.