Future merger of health and social care inspectorates on the cards

Details of a radical overhaul of all aspects of the social care
inspections regime were published this week, including plans for
the future merger of the Commission for Social Care Inspection and
the Healthcare Commission.

New arrangements for health and social care came as part of the
Department of Health’s review of arm’s-length bodies, published
last week, aimed at reducing red tape.

The review does not outline an immediate merger of CSCI and the
Healthcare Commission, but insists they must continue to work
closely in the “long-term direction of travel towards combined
health and social care inspection”.

A spokesperson for the Healthcare Commission said it did not
envisage a merger with CSCI “in the near future”, and a CSCI
spokesperson said it was not yet clear what would emerge.

Closer links between the General Social Care Council and the
Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, leading possibly to a
merger, were also outlined. This would see the remit of the CHRE,
which currently oversees nine health regulatory bodies including
the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council,
extended to cover social care professionals. A GSCC spokesperson
insisted its “vital work” would continue.

The review also signals that care homes are likely to be charged
the costs of inspections in the future. While the Healthcare
Commission is to move immediately towards full cost recovery for
inspections of independent health care providers, the CSCI has been
told to take decisions on a move “to full or partial cost

The integrated inspection of children’s education, social and
healthcare provision was also announced this week in a consultation
launched by 10 inspectorates. A framework for children and young
people from 0 to 19 will integrate judgements about education,
social and health care, and youth justice services.

From September 2005, all council children’s services will receive a
joint area review within three years. The process will be
integrated with, and conducted alongside, the Audit Commission’s
comprehensive performance assessments of councils. The Audit
Commission confirmed that councils would only face such assessments
every three years.

Education watchdog Ofsted and the CSCI will undertake annual
assessments of social care and education functions provided or
commissioned by councils.

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