NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE: Care Quality Commission: Regulating the quality and safety of health and social care
A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:
We have all been shocked by the recent reports showing that some hospitals are failing to provide the most basic care to elderly and vulnerable patients. The CQC is the body responsible for protecting patients and ensuring that basic standards of care are met, but this report raises serious concerns about whether it is up to scratch.
The findings are deeply worrying and highlight significant failures that put patient care at risk. The Care Quality Commission has missed deadlines for its work, not undertaken sufficient compliance and inspection activities, and failed to deliver value for money.
The Commission prioritised registering care providers over checking compliance with essential quality and safety standards. As recent reports about the quality of care for the elderly demonstrate, timely inspections are vital for protecting patients and preventing unnecessary deaths.
It is shocking that the Commission has been held back from getting the staff it needs, and had the budget for, because of the halt on public sector recruitment. At one point last year 14% of necessary staff positions were vacant. The Commission focused on registering organisations and completed fewer than half of planned compliance reviews for the six months to April 2011. There has been too much focus on box ticking and not enough on crossing the threshold and assuring the quality of care.
The Commission needs to communicate what it does much better. The public and providers and commissioners of care are not clear what role the Commission plays in assuring quality of care.
The Commission is not yet delivering value for money and blame for this must be shared between the Commission and the Department of Health.
The report is available to read on the National Audit Office website (external site).