In the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report released this week MPs have stated that the CQC still has a long way to go before it is an effective regulator.
The CQC has been criticised for not getting its priorities right by failing to act in relation to concerns raised about residents being abused by care home staff and for concentrating its attention on registering organisations instead. It has been accused of not reacting quickly enough to whistleblowing reports and criticised for shutting down its dedicated whistle blowing hotline which staff previously used to report concerns about standards in care homes and hospitals.
The PAC report also raised concerns relating to the CQCs use of ‘gagging clauses’ which prevent staff leaving the organisation from speaking out in public. In particular, the report outlined that one former board member had been ‘ostracised and vilified’ after speaking out about the ‘bullying culture’.
Chairman of the PAC, Margaret Hodge MP said “this is a story of failure that goes right to the top of the organisation. The former chief executive has moved on but it is too soon to tell what difference that has made…it is unacceptable that staff leaving the organisation have been made to sign gagging clauses to prevent them speaking out, when the information could have been used to hold the commission to account and force it to improve.”
The CQC have issued a response to the criticisms stating that they are disappointed that the report does not take into account the improvements over the last few months. They also claim that they have not closed their whistle blowing hotline but instead have restructured this area and actually have more staff on hand to deal with calls received.
Now that the Health and Social Care Bill has received Royal Assent there will be further scrutiny as to the CQCs competency to register and monitor healthcare providers as they are designated increased responsibilities under the new reforms. In particular there is a major concern that CQC will simply become a ‘postbox’ in relation to their involvement in registering GPs as it involves GPs sending in their own assessments on compliance with quality and safety standards.