The Royal Colleges and other professional bodies could use their clinical expertise, authority and influence with clinicians to improve the quality of regulation of healthcare services. At present, their contribution to regulation in England is ad hoc and informal. Better engagement could increase the impact that professional bodies have on patient care and create a new role for them as arbiters of quality in the organisation and delivery of care. the requirement for healthcare provider organisations to register with the Care Quality Commission from April 2010 and the National Health Service Next Stage Review have created an opportunity for closer collaboration. However, there are problems that must be overcome. These include the ownership of information about the quality of care and the uses to which this is put. It would be self-defeating if closer working with the regulator undermined the trust that clinicians have in quality improvement work led by the professional bodies.