Home Compliance CQC’s New Inspection Methodology – Where we are and what to expect in 2023

CQC’s New Inspection Methodology – Where we are and what to expect in 2023

by Kirsty Kirsty

Samantha Burges, Senior Associate Solicitor, Ridouts Professional Services Ltd

Throughout 2022 the CQC was ploughing ahead with the development of its new single assessment framework with a view to implementing it in Spring 2023. However, in December it was announced that this would be delayed and instead the CQC would be focusing on implementing its new approach in phases. It was confirmed the CQC would gradually start using its new assessment framework ‘towards the end of 2023’.

What we know so far about the new assessment framework

The new single assessment framework will apply to all registered Providers. While the ratings and 5 key questions remain the same, the CQC is scrapping the KLOEs and prompts in favour of newly developed ‘quality statements’.  These are described as commitments that Providers should live up to and are expressed as ‘we statements’. Six evidence categories have been developed that will be used to organise information under the statements. This is supported by a 6-stage scoring system that will be applied to the evidence collected to ultimately produce key question and overall ratings for a Provider. It is understood that initially the scoring will happen behind the scenes, but in time the CQC intends to publish exact scores.

One of the key changes is the move away from inspection based activity being the primary driver for assessment and ratings changes. The CQC aims to form quicker, real-time judgements of services without having to rely on inspections. Instead there will be an increased reliance on remote data collection and inspections will continue to be risk-based. Most importantly, under the new methodology, ratings will be able to change without an inspection visit.

There has been no clarity to date on what processes will be in place to enable Providers to challenge ratings. Traditionally the factual accuracy process has existed to allow Providers to challenge findings from physical inspections prior to publication of an inspection report. The CQC has said Providers will have the opportunity to respond to its findings under the new methodology but no further information has been forthcoming. In particular, how will Providers be able to respond to updated ratings that are not based on a physical inspection?

It is also unclear how the evidence categories will be applied in practice. Information published to date suggests the CQC will use its discretion as to which evidence categories it looks at when assessing a Provider – they may not always look at them all. Will the CQC work collaboratively with Providers in determining the relevant evidence? In addition, the majority of published evidence categories rely on the opinions of individuals – what mechanisms will be in place for objectively assessing subjective opinions?

What to expect in 2023

Dates are very vague and no comprehensive timetable has been provided to date. However, we do know that the following key steps have been set out.

During Spring 2023 the CQC will be focusing on internal priorities including making sure appropriate technology is in place and that it can be tested with Providers. The CQC states it has taken into account the reality that many services are currently under pressure and this shift in focus will minimise the changes it makes externally, therefore reducing the potential burden on Providers for now.

In Summer 2023 the CQC will start a staged launch of its new online Provider Portal. The first stage will allow Providers to submit statutory notifications and the CQC will be looking to improve how its enforcement process works. This marks the start of the CQC gathering evidence in a new and structured way which is intended to help inform its assessments. The intention is to make it much easier for Providers to interact with the CQC. The new portal will be the only way the CQC will communicate electronically with Providers in the future. Providers will need to familiarise themselves with these technological changes when more information is forthcoming.

No further stages have been detailed to date. A huge part of the new framework focuses on remote ‘evidence collecting activities’. The CQC has previously said there will be more transparency in relation to evidence collected to form judgements and that Providers will be given further opportunities to share information with the CQC. It makes sense for such communications to take place through the Provider Portal, although this has not been confirmed by the CQC. It is envisaged that the Provider Portal will be much more complex than what currently exists, allowing the sharing of information both ways.

The CQC says it will be releasing more details on its phased roll-out ‘early in the New Year’, along with more user research and testing. Providers should keep up to date with the latest developments and involve themselves as much as possible in the CQC’s Provider engagement processes to ensure they have a say on how they will be inspected and judged in the future.


Image depcits Samantha Burges, Senior Associate Solicitor, Ridouts Professional Services Ltd

Related Articles