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CQC ‘not an effective regulator’ and unprepared for 2016 duties – PAC

With an alarming lack of attention to detail and a long gap between inspections and reports, the CQC cannot yet be considered an effective regulator, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said.

Raising concerns about the body’s performance, the PAC said the CQC is still “behind where it should be, six years after it was established”. This is aggravated further by the body’s inadequacy in assessing its own performance, it argued.

MPs on the Committee also claimed it remained unclear how the CQC would implement and coordinate new responsibilities for assessing hospitals’ use of resources.

This was driven by staff shortages at the inspectorate body, which in turn were hindering its ability to complete inspection programmes. Further substantial weaknesses were identified in the consistency, accuracy and timeliness of its initial draft reports.

PAC’s chair, Meg Hillier MP, added that the Commission demonstrated a remarkable lack of attention to detail when preparing reports. One foundation trust told the committee that its staff identified more than 200 errors in a draft CQC report, for example, including errors in data.

“The fact these errors were picked up offers some reassurance, but this is clearly unacceptable from a public body in which taxpayers are placing their trust,” Hillier said.

“If the Commission is to properly fulfil its duty to taxpayers we must see improvements in the way it collects, acts upon and publishes information. At the same time, it should set out a coherent plan for managing its new responsibilities.”

The CQC’s slumping productivity and staff shortages have been no secret to public scrutiny, but Hillier said recruitment was also progressing too slowly – meaning people are being deprived of up-to-date, independent information about the quality of services provided.

“It is vital the public is clear on what the Commission has actually inspected, and when,” she continued, adding: “When the Commission falls short, there must be robust measures in place to enable Parliament and the public to hold it to account.”

PAC’s MPs concluded that the CQC is not yet ready to implement new responsibilities it takes on in April 2016 to assess the efficiency with which hospitals use their resources.

David Behan, the Commission’s chief executive, said: "We have always maintained that there is more we have to do, in particular with regards to improving the timeliness of our reports and inspecting all health and adult social care services. “These are not new issues and we have been working hard to improve our performance. We have reported on our progress in public every month and we will continue to do so.

“What is essential is that we do not take any shortcuts, which could compromise the quality of the important work that we do.”

According to Behan, people are “increasingly confident” in the CQC’s new and more rigorous approach to inspections – but he assured the body is not complacent, and will continue to work confidently to improve its work.

The Committee will return to this subject after reviewing what further progress the CQC makes in the coming year.


R M Falk   14/12/2015 at 18:35

Our GP practice was found as "requiring improvement" in February. The rationale for such a finding was in our opinion "technical" and remedial action was taken within days, yet as the year end approaches we still await a return visit and in the interim face the ignominy of having to display the CQC finding "prominently" at our surgery. David Behan deludes himself if he believes "people are increasingly confident" in the CQC - those who have ben exposed to them know otherwise.

Susan   17/12/2015 at 07:42

It amazes me that GPs keep complaining about being inspected. They provide a paid service to the public and therefore should be under the same inspection process as other providers of Health and Social Care. I believe the GP inspections could be even more robust than they are. Using Professional advisors in the process ensures a level of knowledge in an inspection. I agree with the PAC that the refining of reports is too long, so who ever is responsible for that system needs to review it. I certainly don't agree that it's not fit for purpose!

Lucy   20/12/2015 at 17:02

i whistleblew in past months about the state of the home, its mismanagement, poor practices and abuse and neglect, i also found out a day after reading this report that the local authority safeguarding team also failed miserably in reaching its targets, so not only did cqc fail this home with vulnerable adults also their local safeguarding team did too. this is simply not good enough.

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