The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will assume responsibility for regulating health and social care and monitoring the welfare of detained mental health patients in England following the passage of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 today.
The legislation heralds the abolition of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission next April, while the CQC will come into being in shadow form in October this year.
The act will also answer longstanding calls for independent care home providers to be bound by the Human Rights Act 1998 – though this will only apply to care arranged by local authorities or primary care trusts, rather than individuals or their families.
Ground conceded to campaigners
While the fundamentals of the legislation remained unchanged by parliamentary debate, the government conceded ground on a number of issues raised by campaigners, including the danger that social care and mental health would be marginalised by health in the CQC.
In the latter states of the bill, the government passed an amendment to ensure that appointees to the CQC’s board had experience of all three sectors between them.
It also responded to concerns from groups including Carers UK that users and carers would have insufficient clout in the CQC with an amendment requiring the regulator to publish a statement on how it would engage with users and carers and take account of their views.
Another amendment stated that the CQC would have as its main objective the protection and promotion of the health, safety and welfare of people who use health and social care. This followed accusations from peers, including former health minister Lord Warner, that the bill as originally drafted lacked a clear statement of purpose for the regulator.