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Problems with NHS and adult social care - complaining to the Care Quality Commission

This advice applies to England

Health and care services are usually very good, but occasionally things can go wrong. This page tells you more about reporting concerns to the Care Quality Commission.

What is the Care Quality Commission?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator for health and social care services. They are responsible for monitoring and inspecting:

  • all hospitals - NHS and private
  • GP practices
  • dentists
  • community health services
  • care homes
  • agencies that provide care to people in their own homes.

The Care Quality Commission - healthcare

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the body which regulates both NHS and private hospitals. They also regulate GP practices, dentists and community health services. They monitor the performance of health services against national standards and publish the results of their inspections. Standards include:

  • you should expect to be respected, involved in your care and support and told what’s happening at every stage of your treatment
  • you should expect to be safe when you’re being treated for a health problem
  • you should expect to be cared for by staff with the right skills to do their jobs properly.

The CQC don’t investigate individual complaints but they do want to hear about people’s experiences of health care - both good and bad. Every comment or complaint that they hear about builds up a better picture of what’s going on at a service. How and when the CQC follow up your comments depends on how serious the concerns are and what else they know about the quality of healthcare at that place. Everything that you tell the CQC helps them decide when, where and what to inspect.

The Care Quality Commission - adult social care

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for monitoring, inspecting and regulating the quality of care provided in care homes and by agencies to people in their own home.

The CQC don’t investigate individual complaints but they do want to hear about people’s experiences of adult social care - both good and bad. Every comment or complaint that they hear about builds up a better picture of what’s going on at a service. How and when the CQC follow up your comments depends on how serious the concerns are and what else they know about the quality of care at that place. Everything that you tell the CQC helps them decide when, where and what to inspect.

The Care Quality Commission - use of the Mental Health Act

If you're a detained patient and you're unhappy about the way the Mental Health Act 1983 has been used, you can make a complaint. Powers and duties that the CQC carry out under the Mental Health Act 1983 cover a wide range of issues, including the care you get if you're detained in hospital or if you're on a guardianship or community treatment order.

If you have a problem, you should first complain to the service that provided the care you’re unhappy with.

If you aren’t happy with the final reply you get from the service, you can ask the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to investigate your complaint. It’s CQC’s job to make sure that your complaint has been handled properly.

Reporting concerns to the Care Quality Commission

You can report concerns by:

The CQC has the power to:

  • issue a warning notice, asking for improvements within a short period of time
  • limit the services that the organisation can offer
  • restrict admissions to a hospital
  • issue a fixed penalty notice (a sort of fine)
  • prosecute someone carrying out a criminal offence
  • suspend or cancel an organisation’s registration with the CQC.

Example

The CQC made an unannounced visit to one hospital because of concerns raised by whistleblowers working there. Very serious failings were discovered when they spoke to staff and saw documents at the hospital. Medical, surgical and some nursing practices at the hospital were so poor that people were put at significant risk. This risk was, on some occasions, life threatening.

The CQC served warning notices in a number of areas requiring the hospital to produce a report setting out how and when changes would be made to make sure they met the standards.

Next steps

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