A damning report by MPs in the Health Select Committee warned that the public does not trust the CQC to tell them if care homes and hospitals are fit for purpose. Stephen Dorrell, the Chairman of the Committee has said the CQC must do more if patients are to have confidence in its hospital inspections.
MPs claimed that inspectors often tick boxes rather than really probe the care that is being offered. According to the committee’s annual report the CQC must ensure its inspectors observe the culture of organisations that underpins the care provided. Inspectors should “ask themselves about the culture of care within an organisation” and the CQC should make assessing this part of the formal inspection process.
The MP for Charnwood said it is ‘extraordinary’ that the CQC has existed for five years and its exact role was still being discussed. He said “i’m confident that it’s changing. It is an organisation that has come from a long way behind and it has got a long way to travel”.
The Health Select Committee report warned that CQC inspectors pass “standards of care that are certainly too low” and such inspections “fail to identify examples of care which don’t meet the aspirations of the essential standards”.
The CQC has been frequently criticised recently for failing to identify poor care and even abuse. The committee’s annual report found that the CQC’s essential standards could not be taken “as a guarantee of acceptable standards in care. As a result, patients, residents and relatives do not have confidence in the CQC’s standards or the outcomes of inspections”.
The committee did note some improvements compared to a year ago, with “a much keener focus on patient safety” at the CQC which has a new chief executive and a new chairman. However, Mr Dorrell said these improvements came from “a low base”.
The report noted, “there have been too many reports of CQC inspections which focus on easily measurable inputs, rather than the essential quality of care provided. The organisation has sometimes seemed to be an illustration of the principle that ‘what gets measured gets managed“. Mr Dorell said if staff do not report problems, “it almost certainly tells you that the culture is wrong” and indicates an organisation which lacks transparency.
David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said the organisation will “focus on quality and safety“.