In an exclusive interview with the HSJ, CQC’s Chief Executive, David Behan said CQC would fail to hit its target to inspect all acute hospital trusts under its new inspection regime before the end of 2015 and added that CQC was making the admission to be “open and transparent.”
The target for acute hospital trusts has been pushed back to 31 March 2016 whilst the target for inspection of all acute specialist trusts, NHS mental health, community and ambulance providers will be completed by 30 June 2016. CQC has also pushed back targets for inspection of all GP’s and adult social care providers from March 2016 and April 2016 respectively to 30 September 2016.
Two of the reasons provided for the failure to meet targets were sluggish recruitment and a heavier than anticipated workload. Mr Behan stated that the new intensive inspections had taken longer than originally expected and the CQC was not “prepared to compromise on the quality” of inspections. He added that the increased workload was not helped by the fact that CQC had “not recruited the number of inspectors at the rate we anticipated”.
When the HSJ asked why CQC should be allowed to move its targets when the trusts it regulates were unable to change their waiting time standards he said it was a “fair challenge” to ask “are we judging others in a different way to how we’re holding ourselves to account. I don’t think we’re trying to create a different standard than applies to the people we regulate. We would equally want providers to be open and transparent about what they’re able to do. I would put to people that what we’re attempting to do is model appropriately open and transparent behaviour.”
Whilst recruitment has been slower than expected, Mr Behan indicated that CQC would be “there or thereabouts” on target to recruit 300 inspectors by the end of next month and he was optimistic that further recruitment would ensure that CQC had hired all the inspectors it needed by the end of December 2015.
Commenting on the strain being placed on current CQC staff Mr Behan said “I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t got people working very, very hard and working under a lot of pressure. It is ‘getting better’ rather than it has ‘got better’ and it will continue to get better through the year.”