§ Ms Stuart
Independent healthcare is currently regulated under the Registered Homes Act 1984. We recognise the deficiencies with the present system and that it has not kept pace with the developments in independent healthcare over the past two decades. The Government are therefore putting in place a new modern regulatory framework for the independent healthcare sector, through the Care Standards Act 2000. One of the main elements of the Act is to establish a new independent body, the National Care Standards Commission, which will regulate independent hospitals to proper modern standards. The Act will put in place a regulatory system that will ensure the delivery of quality services, proper accountability by the provider, and flexibility to allow the regulatory framework to respond to developments in the healthcare field.
To ensure consistency and quality of service provision the Commission will inspect against national minimum standards for each of the services to be regulated, ensuring that patients can have confidence in the quality and safety of the services that they receive. Work is currently progressing on the development of the national minimum standards in consultation with patients, providers, inspectors, healthcare professionals and specialists. Once the standards are developed they will be the subject of a full public consultation in April 2001.