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Scaling up networked care


What are the regulatory implications when expanding a network?

Regulators have an important role in facilitating the expansion of networked care services through encouraging and supporting providers to explore innovative solutions.

New ways of delivering care and joint working across systems is changing the provider landscape. Regulation will undoubtedly have to adjust to meet these changes. NHSI and the CQC have already taken steps to assess how regulation, oversight and inspection can work in this context.

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Regulators saw their role as encouraging and supporting providers to explore innovative solutions and help share best practice across the system.

Regulators’ understanding how of networked care can help with service sustainability is likely to enable networked care expansion.

There was concern that when taking on an underperforming service, a speciality provider’s regulatory standing could be put at risk and this could be a barrier to expansion. Regulators could help by allowing time for the networked service improvement plan to be delivered (within an agreed timeframe).What are the regulatory implications when expanding a network?

While regulators were supportive of scaling up single specialty networks, the need for clear lines of accountability between networked care and host providers for the delivery of patient care was emphasised. SLAs are the way network providers manage these relationships and regulators highlighted the importance of these in providing regulatory assurance.

With no single prescribed model for networked care, getting a consistent approach to regulating these models will need collaboration between network providers and regulators.

 

Considerations:

  • Allowing providers time to stabilise underperforming services may incentivise network growth.
  • Including specialist networked providers in sustainability conversations can enable growth of networks.
  • Clarity is needed around how regulation will apply to growing networks within mature STPs.
  • Providers need to work more closely with regulators to develop a consistent approach to regulating networks where this is a challenge, as there is no single model.