The Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) published its annual State of Care report on 13 October 2016. The report sets out the CQC’s assessment of the quality of health and adult social care across England in 2015/16 based on its inspections of services and the ratings awarded to providers. The CQC found that good care is being delivered and has been improved upon across health and adult social care, but has concerns as to the sustainability of this position.

Increased pressure for providers

The report notes the increased pressure on providers: the combination of a growing and ageing population, more people with long-term conditions, and a challenging economic climate is recognised as putting greater demand on services.  It notes that, at the same time, providers are facing decreasing profit margins because of increased costs (including as a result of the national living wage) and fees being squeezed by local authority cuts.  The report notes that some providers are starting to hand back care contracts to local authorities on the basis that they are uneconomic and undeliverable and that local authorities predict that this trend will continue.

Additionally, a lack of at-home care services and beds in care homes has led to overstretched A&E departments and delays in people leaving hospital. Earlier this year, Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, called for any extra funding for health services to instead be used for adult social care.

Despite this, the report found that 71% of care homes, home care agencies, and other adult social care services are providing good care, with 1% providing outstanding care. Of those services rated as inadequate that were re-inspected this year, more than three-quarters had improved enough to receive a higher rating.

In relation to health services, the report found that whilst services for children and young people in core hospital services were rated good or outstanding, urgent and emergency services need to improve. Tough financial conditions mean that more than eight out of 10 NHS acute trusts were in financial deficit. Additionally, the report found that there is a high level of variability in quality within mental health service providers as well as between them, potentially due to cuts across mental health services.

Emphasis on collaborative working

In its last report, the CQC said that to meet the challenges ahead, services needed to collaborate and leaders needed to think outside traditional organisational boundaries.  The CQC says that it has seen some evidence that this is starting to happen.  In particular, the CQC’s evidence suggests that many providers are delivering good quality care within the resources available to them, often by starting to transform the way they work through collaboration with other services and sectors. The CQC has encouraged increased collaboration with other services and sectors to achieve economies of scale and continuity of care.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this article, please contact our Health and Social Care or Public & Regulatory teams who have extensive experience in acting for health and social care providers. 

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Claire Whittle

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Emma Dowden-Teale


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Posted on 17/10/2016 in Legal Updates

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