The chair of the new Care Quality Commission, which will regulate UK healthcare from April 2008, has indicated that the commission will come down hard on institutions that do not comply with NICE guidance.

Baroness Young, a former NHS manager who left the Labour benches to sit on the cross-benches since her appointment to chair the CQC, told the Health Service Journal that trusts which fail to comply with NICE guidance will not receive good quality ratings.

She said: "The system has been patchy in implementing NICE standards. So it's about saying: 'Well, you only get your good quality rating if you meet NICE standards.' We need to up the ante."

HSJ noted that in the 2007 annual health check by the Healthcare Commission - which will be merged into the CQC over the next six months - the ‘core standard’ on compliance with NICE technology appraisals was the seventh least complied-with element. Forty-three NHS organisations either did not meet, or prove they had met the standard in 2006-07. Twenty-seven further trusts, including some of the semi-autonomous, better-performing NHS foundation trusts, failed the other ‘core standard’ on NICE guidance.

Performance-related pay
Baroness Young also raised the issue of performance-related pay for NHS trusts, reflecting suggestions in Health Minister Lord Darzi’s next stage review High quality healthcare for all that up to 2% of trusts’ income could be conditional on delivering quality standards, which are yet to be described.

Baroness Young said: "I'm a great believer in performance pay. It'll be interesting to see what happens about incentivising."

The CQC has also launched a draft manifesto, outlining its core principles as transparency, independence and risk-based inspection. It will focus particular attention on health outcomes.