Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) payment framework

The CQUIN payment framework makes a proportion of providers' income conditional on quality and innovation. Its aim is to support the vision set out in High Quality Care for All of an NHS where quality is the organising principle. The framework was launched in April 2009 and helps ensure quality is part of the commissioner-provider discussion everywhere.

The Department of Health produced guidance on the payment framework in December 2008, and an addendum to this guidance for 2010/11 was published in December 2009. The guidance is available here.

Click here to see a set of responses to  Frequently Asked Questions (published May 2010) (Frequently Asked Questions (published May 2010)168.00 KB).

In the first year of the CQUIN framework (2009/10), there has been lots of activity across England to develop and agree CQUIN schemes. This is a developmental process for everyone and you are encouraged to share your schemes (and any supporting information on the process you used) to meet the requirement for transparency and support improvement in schemes over time. To share examples of local schemes please email Rachel Hinde.

Click here to view examples of CQUIN schemes for 2010/11. Click here to view examples of CQUIN schemes for 2009/10 from around the country. Click here to view a list of CQUIN goals from the 2009/10 schemes on this site. This is not an assured menu of indicators, but simply shows indicators which have been used by local organisations.

For 2010/11, the Department of Health has also worked with NHS colleagues to develop illustrative examples of CQUIN schemes foracute (acute409.34 KB) and  mental health (mental health145.91 KB)services respectively. These are purely illustrative and are intended to demonstrate use of the  new standard template for CQUIN schemes (new standard template for CQUIN schemes62.50 KB) included within national standard contracts in 2010/11.

SHA CQUIN leads met in July 2009 and agreed what  a good CQUIN scheme would look like. (a good CQUIN scheme would look like.45.00 KB).

In 2010/11, CQUIN schemes for acute providers must include two national goals and indicators.   Click here to access a benchmarking tool (Click here to access a benchmarking tool748.50 KB) which has been developed to support local organisations to use the national patient experience indicator and to set appropriate payment thresholds.

Some places had quality incentive schemes in place in 2008/09, prior to the introduction of the CQUIN framework. You can see these, and other quality incentive schemes operating outside the CQUIN framework, by clicking here


If you have additional questions on the framework, which cannot be resolved locally, please email the CQUIN framework mailbox at the Department of Health.

Useful links:

CQUIN schemes shared by SHAs & Illustrative example CQUIN schemes for acute and mental health services:
NHS Evidence – Quality and Productivity:
Indicators for Quality Improvement:
Department of Health mailbox for queries on the CQUIN framework:
Department of Health mailbox for queries on the national contracts: