You are here:

Health regulators

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

CQC logo

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates all health and adult social care services in England, including those provided by the NHS, local authorities, private companies or voluntary organisation. It also protects the interests of people detained under the Mental Health Act. 

The CQC makes sure that essential common quality standards are being met where care is provided, from hospitals to private care homes. It has a wide range of enforcement powers to take action on behalf of people who use services if services are unacceptably poor.

The CQC’s work brings together independent regulation of health, mental health and adult social care for the first time. Before April 1 2009, this work was carried out by the Healthcare Commission, the Mental Health Act Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
The CQC’s aim is to make sure better care is provided for everyone, whether that’s in hospital, in care homes, in people’s own homes or elsewhere.


Involving people

The CQC makes sure that the voices of people who use health and adult social care services are heard by asking people to share their experiences of care services. It makes sure that users' views are at the heart of its reports and reviews. In some cases patients and their carers work alongside inspectors to provide a user's view of services.



By law all NHS providers (such as hospitals and ambulance services) must register with the CQC to show they are protecting people from the risk of infection. The registration system applies to NHS provider trusts (acute, ambulance, mental health and primary care) and the NHS Blood and Transplant Authority.

From April 2010 all regulated health and adult social care providers must be registered with the CQC to show they are meeting essential, common quality standards. Without registration, providers will not be allowed to operate.



The CQC takes action f providers don’t meet essential quality standards, or if there is reason to think that people’s basic rights or safety are at risk.

The CQC has a new, wide range of enforcement powers, such as fines and public warnings, and can be flexible about how and when to use them. It can apply specific conditions in response to serious risks. For example, it can demand that a hospital ward or service is closed until the provider meets safety requirements or is suspended. It can take a service off the register if absolutely necessary.

From April 1 2009 to April 1 2010 its new powers will apply to NHS providers only in relation to healthcare-associated infections. The full range of powers will apply to all health and adult social care providers from April 2010.



The CQC also carries out periodic and special reviews in order to improve health and social care in the UK.

CQC’s priority is to improve the public’s experience of health and social care.


Vision and values show

'Independence will be our watchword. We’ll speak up, and we’ll speak out. We want to be trusted and respected by the public, our partners and the organisations we regulate'

Visit CQC's website and learn more about their work

Last reviewed: 25/06/2009

Next review due: 24/06/2011

Clinical trials and medical research

Clinical trials explained, including how to take part in one and why medical research is important

Your NHS rights

Knowing your rights will help you get the most from the NHS. Find out what you can and should expect from the NHS.