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Care Quality Commission "has failed to fulfil its role effectively", say MPs
Date of article: 30-Mar-12
Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor
The Care Quality Commission which is responsible for regulating health and adult social care in England has “failed to fulfil its role effectively”, says the cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee.
The public accounts committee report on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has criticised the regulator, saying it has failed to carry out enough inspections, closed a whistleblowers’ helpline and not filled vacancies.
The report ‘The Care Quality Commission: Regulating the quality and safety of health and adult social care’, claims “the commission has more responsibilities but less money than its predecessors. Despite this it has consistently failed to spend its budget because of delays in filling staff vacancies”.
It also criticised the commission for not acting “quickly on vital issues such as information from whistleblowers”.
Neither did it deal with problems effectively, and the Department of Health is only now taking action, said the report.
The report concluded “we have serious concerns about the Commission's governance, leadership and culture. A Board member, Commission staff, and representatives of the health and adult social care sectors have all been critical of how the Commission is run.”
However a spokesman for the CQC said: “We are disappointed” that the report “does not recognise the significant improvements of recent months” and added: “These improvements were noted in the Performance and Capability Review published by the Department of Health in February, which referred to CQC’s ‘considerable’ achievements in “setting the essential platform from which tougher regulatory action can be taken when needed”.
The CQC highlighted the fact that the number of unannounced inspections conducted by CQC continues to rise on a monthly basis, with 2,400 being carried out in January.
It also called the report’s assertion that the CQC “has recently closed its dedicated whistleblowing hotline” inaccurate.
The spokesman said “CQC has not abolished any whistleblowing hotline – in fact we have recently strengthened our arrangements for dealing with whistleblowers. A team of call handlers has been specially trained to deal with whistleblowing calls and is responsible for tracking calls through to a satisfactory conclusion with CQC inspectors. Since this specialist team was set up in June 2011, it has received over 3,000 calls.”
Diane Lawson, chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Social Care, welcomed the “recognition that there have been improvements" and said: "The shortcomings identified in inspection and protection of people from poor quality care concern us because they come in the wake of a spate of other reports illustrating poor quality care.”
“The Which? report published in January, that identified problems in home care, is just the latest example.”
She added: “We note the view of the Public Accounts Committee of serious concerns about the leadership, governance and culture of the Commission. For the Skills Academy, although effective leadership at senior levels is necessary, it is not sufficient."
"For us, good leadership is grounded in everyday behaviours. It follows that good leadership is for people at all levels of an organisation, and the mark of a good organisation is that it recognises this and inculcates leadership behaviours throughout its workforce.”