CQC’s response to safeguarding alerts falls short of targets

CQC’s board members have expressed concerns over CQC’s performance in responding to safeguarding information in the latest CQC board meeting.

Although CQC reports a marginal improvement on response times to safeguarding alerts and concerns for the year to date, figures show that CQC’s hospital directorate followed up on 32% of safeguarding alerts within one day in the third quarter of 2014-15 compared to a target of 95%. A safeguarding ‘alert’ is where CQC is the first agency receiving the safeguarding information and/or there is a need for CQC to take immediate action, whereas safeguarding ‘concerns’ refer to information that is already known by other organisations and CQC needs to consider whether an immediate regulatory response is required.

Papers presented to the CQC board suggest that CQC is not dealing correctly with a growing proportion of the safeguarding information it receives. In particular, the number of warnings where “no action” is recorded has increased noticeably. It has been suggested that this is mostly a recording issue rather than the actions not being carried out. However, CQC has previously said that a failure to record activity properly is “not acceptable”.

At the board meeting David Behan, CQC’s Chief Executive, said he would chair a meeting on the issue “so we can actually bottom [out] this once and for all in relation to what action we need to take in relation to our policy, what action we need to take in relation to the way that we record and account and once we’ve got clarity on policy and accounting what discipline we need for every member of staff to make sure that policy and process is followed.”

Other concerns raised during the meeting included the growing number of providers demonstrating long-term non-compliance with CQC standards. The number of locations demonstrating non-compliance for over a year has increased in the adult social care and hospital sectors for two successive quarters. In the hospital sector the number of locations that have been non-compliant for over a year now account for more than half of all non-compliant hospital locations. Non-executive director, Anna Bradley said she found the figures “quite troubling” stating “the fact that we have known for in excess of a year that someone is non-compliant and that they remain non-compliant…suggests that where there were risks they are just continuing and we’re not doing our jobs properly.”

CQC’s strategy director, Paul Bate, said the special measures regime, which allows CQC to effectively put a time limit on continued non-compliance, would be “fundamental to how we shift the picture on long-term non-compliance.”

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