The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced a consultation on changes to the way it regulates. The CQC has said that services will be inspected more often, with most social care services, independent healthcare services, NHS acute hospitals and NHS ambulance trusts being inspected at least once a year. Inspections will also be more targeted and where providers are found not to be meeting their legal requirements, swift action will follow.

Following its annual review of the work of the CQC (reported on above), the House of Commons Health Select Committee concluded that there had been a distortion of the work of the regulator from its core function of inspection "towards the essentially administrative task of registration." The committee found the primary cause of this distortion had been "the unrealistic statutory obligations imposed on the CQC."

In announcing the consultation, the CQC has stated that it is seeking to simplify and strengthen its regulatory model to reflect a focus on monitoring and inspecting. Providers, commissioners, stakeholders, the public and CQC staff are therefore invited to comment on proposed changes to the CQC’s judgment framework and enforcement policy. The consultation period runs between 19 September and 9 December 2011.