Inspections carried out into general practices by NHS regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will include new objectives from next month that seek to ensure better equality for all patient groups.
The CQC has published new equality objectives for 2017-19 in a document intended to target inequality in health and social care. The regulator said that despite progress on equality, people from some equality groups were still less likely to receive good quality health and social care.
It wants to check during inspections that providers make person-centred care work for everyone, from all equality groups such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people using adult social care or mental health inpatient services. The CQC has set an objective to look at reducing barriers and improving access to primary care for migrants, asylum seekers, Gypsies and Travellers, to help address their poor health outcomes.
It will also look at how people in specific equality groups are supported on referral, transfer between services - including adult social care services and health services - on discharge from hospital and in primary care.
From October, the CQC will:
Add a specific question to its Provider Information Request forms (PIR) on person centred care and equality.
Have inspectors examine these issues on inspection.
Build on the PIR response and support this with guidance and informal learning.
Identify, promote and share outstanding practice.
Communicating its expectations to providers and to people who use services by gathering their views.
In addition, the CQC will share information and intelligence with Healthwatch England on inequality.
In the first year of the new objectives (2017-18), the initial focus will be on how providers ensure person-centred care for older BME (black and minority ethnic) people using GP practices, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who use adult social care and mental health inpatient services, and for people with dementia in acute hospitals.
For year two (2018-19), the regulator said it would review progress in the first year’s areas before determining its next focus.
The CQC said that through its inspections, it would also look at how providers were meeting the new Accessible Information Standard introduced last year, which applies to disabled people who have information and communication needs, for example, deaf people or people with a learning disability.