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Proposals to extend CQC’s powers

The Department of Health has launched a consultation on proposals for formal regulation of cosmetic surgery clinics and other health service providers by developing the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings system.

How would this change things?

The CQC is already responsible for the inspection of NHS Trusts, general practices, independent hospitals and adult social care providers (in accordance with Section 46 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 as amended by The Care Act 2014) but this development would cover a wider health sector remit.

The additional providers that are already regulated but would fall within the scope of the CQC’s extended inspection and rating powers include:

  • cosmetic surgery providers;
  • independent community health service providers;
  • independent ambulance services;
  • independent dialysis units;
  • refractive eye surgery providers;
  • substance misuse centres;
  • termination of pregnancy services.

Why are the changes being proposed?

The main purpose behind the changes is to promote transparency and ensure public protection by intelligent monitoring of the safety, quality and compliance requirements for all regulated activities.

Inspection teams use a standard set of key lines of enquiry to focus their assessment of services.

The proposed changes would be a significant development in respect of the regulation of these services which are not captured by the existing inspections framework.

Crucially, it would allow individuals to make well informed decisions about their care. Provider choice is now fairly well established in the UK but the reality is that patients do not always exercise this choice or make decisions based around the quality and standards of care, focusing more on factors such as waiting times and location.

Changes in the cosmetic surgery industry have been long-awaited following the PIP breast implant scandal in 2012 and subsequent Keogh Review.

Cosmetic surgery providers are registered with the CQC for surgical regulated activity including procedures such as face lifts, breast implants and liposuction.

The plans aim to review the standards and quality of care provided with poorly performing clinics being named and shamed.

This follows a number of recent steps to improve the cosmetic surgery sector by the Royal College of Surgeons and the General Medical Council in connection with relevant training and qualifications.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has also welcomed the proposals for greater regulation in the cosmetic surgery sector.

In particular, they would allow potential service users to check the quality of clinics via the published ratings which would appear as either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

These plans complement the recent guidance issued by the General Medical Council for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions, ensuring that they are properly trained and experienced to practise safely within the regulated environment.

Regulation concerning product safety is already governed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

How can I find out more?

The Government consultation document sets out the proposals to expand the scope of CQC’s duty to undertake performance assessments and will be open for eight weeks until 14 October 2016.

To find out more or to respond to the consultation, please click here.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

For more information on the proposed changes or on any other aspect of healthcare regulation, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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