Integrated care boards (ICBs) need a ‘single shared vision of quality’ across their system, a Care Quality Commission (CQC) chief inspector has said.
The new systems must adopt their own system-wide understanding of what delivering quality services means in response to a deteriorating NHS offer, Sean O’Kelly, chief Inspector of primary medical services and of hospitals, suggested.
Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event (12 May), Mr O’Kelly pointed to poor access to dentistry as a core factor in the ‘deterioration in the quality oral health’ in England, compounded by staff shortages across the sector.
ICBs last month assumed responsibility for commissioning dentistry, alongside optometry and pharmacy services.
But the NHS’ direction of travel towards greater integration and greater collaboration between organisations, services and professionals is ‘part of the answer to improving quality under the difficult circumstances at the moment’, he added.
He said: ‘One of the key things about ICBs is that they do have the opportunity to develop a single shared vision of quality for a local geography and that will help deal with the problems that we have in the quality sector.’
In March, the CQC published its interim guidance for assessing ICSs, with the systems set to receive ‘outstanding’ or ‘requires improvement’ ratings.
The new framework – which is yet to be approved by the health secretary Steve Barclay – has set out the regulatory body’s key areas of focus and means of evidence gathering.
Overall ratings will also use the CQC’s 4-point rating scale, from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’.
However, the score will offer more detail, indicating if an ICS is in the ‘lower or higher threshold’ of its band.
The CQC has also said it intends to pilot its approach in a handful of ICSs before it formally rolls out assessments for all systems.