It is just six weeks since the CQC launched its new strategy and we are already seeing its effects on providers. There has been a significant increase in the numbers of providers who are experiencing poor – and often unexpected – outcomes following inspections, with disappointing ratings and reports which focus on the negative. It is clear that these experiences are closely linked to the implementation of the CQC’s new strategy.

A common theme is the CQC’s use of intelligence to direct decisions to inspect; almost every inspection we have seen this year has taken place in response to complaints or safeguarding alerts. In these cases, it has appeared that the CQC is not seeking to obtain a balanced picture of the service, but simply to establish whether the concerns can be substantiated and whether there is a problem that would justify a reduction in rating.

We have also seen the CQC fail to reinspect domains previously rated Requires Improvement, increasing the likelihood that a service will be rated at the same level overall and calling into question the fairness of the process adopted.

My colleague Tim Coolican and I have recorded a two-part podcast series where we discuss these issues in more depth. In our first podcast, we examine the new strategy, what it means for health and social care providers and what providers can be doing to prepare for the new style inspections. In the second, we explore the legal and practical options available to providers if a disappointing result is received following an inspection. We also discuss some tips on the factual accuracy and rating review processes to give listeners a steer on to how to challenge a report or rating.

To listen to our podcast, please follow the links below:

Part 1 - How inspections will change and how providers can prepare

Part 2 - How ratings could change and how to challenge them