Public Accounts Committee report on CQC

March 12, 2018

A Public Accounts Committee report on CQC says that action is needed by the regulator on publication of reports, staffing assumptions, intelligence-gathering and more.

As the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) plays a vital role in ensuring people receive safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care.

In its third report on CQC since 2012, the Public Accounts Committee has found that the Commission has improved significantly over this period. However, it says that there remain areas where CQC needs to improve its current performance.

The Committee has found that CQC does not make inspection reports available to the public quickly enough following an inspection and also needs to improve how it interacts with and regulates GP practices.

The Committee has also warned that the inspectorate has a number of challenges ahead. With health and social care providers under severe financial pressure, CQC's workload is likely to increase if services deteriorate and the Commission needs to monitor this closely and understand the impact on its staff requirements.

In order for CQC to move to a more intelligence-driven regulatory approach, the Committee says that it must improve its information systems. CQC also has more work to do to ensure it has the wide range of intelligence it needs to identify early warning signs of poor care.

The Committee also said that since its evidence session, Sir David Behan has announced his retirement. They suggest that the new Chief Executive will have a big task to ensure the Commission is able to tackle the big challenges that are on the horizon.

Meg Hillier MP, Public Accounts Committee Chair said, 'Sir David Behan is stepping down after six years running the Care Quality Commission. The regulator has improved significantly under his stewardship but there is no room for complacency.

'Sir David’s successor will inherit a mixture of persistent weaknesses and looming challenges. These must be tackled amid Commission funding cuts and continued financial pressure across the health and care sectors.

'Both are a potential threat to the Commission’s ability to carry out its duties, which would in turn undermine the ability of patients and their families to make timely and informed choices about care.

'As it stands, the Commission still does not meet the turnaround targets it sets itself for publication of inspection reports. It must do better, particularly on hospital reports, and we expect it to demonstrate progress.

'There is also significant work to be done on information-gathering. It is a simple point, but the Commission cannot hope to fulfil its vision of intelligence-driven regulation until it has in place systems that are up to the job.

'Even then, it must ensure the information feeding those systems is adequate to flag the early signs of poor care. That means investing time in building relationships at the frontline with Healthwatch groups, CCGs and others.

'The recent decline in whistleblower numbers requires investigation; the Commission must act to understand why this has happened and ensure people can feel confident coming forward with what is often critical information.'

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