Inspections of health and care organisations should not resume until after winter – NHS Confederation

Official inspections of health and care organisations should not resume until after winter, the NHS Confederation has said.

Routine inspections were paused during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic to allow organisations to focus on delivering care.

But inspections were still carried out where safety concerns had been raised.

The NHS Confederation has called for the pause to continue through the winter months.

The membership body for NHS organisations said that routine inspections of hospitals should be paused until after winter to allow services to catch up on the backlog of care built up during the pandemic.

Meanwhile it called for a “lighter touch” approach to inspections in the long term to enable health and care services to deliver care to patients more efficiently.

Danny Mortimer (pictured), deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Healthcare needs regulation and oversight, but NHS leaders want to see a radical shift away from the excessive paperwork and other reporting requirements that have become an industry in recent years.

“All too often, these only serve to provide false reassurance, rather than enhancing patient safety.

“The experience of Covid-19 has shown what can be achieved when we have a lighter touch approach in place.

“Successive governments have promised to cut red tape while actually presiding over and instigating an expansion in the bureaucratic burden on providers.

“In the immediate term, we need to put this in reverse and suspend routine inspections until after winter, when the lessons from the pandemic can be put into practice.

“Ultimately, we need a more risk-based, proportionate and intelligence-driven approach to regulation.”

It comes after the chief executive of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that between September and May inspections will have a emphasis on “safety, access and leadership” in a bid to make inspections “less burdensome”.

In an interview with the HSJ on Monday, Ian Trenholm said the approach during the period will serve as a prototype for “intelligence-led” regulation which would make inspections “less of an event” for providers.

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