MPs today deliver damning criticisms of the Care Quality Commission and the way it was set up. The investigation by the health committee of the House of Commons follows criticisms of the failure of regulators to pick up problems such as those exposed at the Winterbourne View home for people with learning difficulties near Bristol. The report says the CQC was expected to take on the work of three regulators in 2009 – but did not have a budget to reflect that.
It took two years registering some 23,000 organisations – leading to resources being diverted to red tape rather than to inspections, MPs said. They found the CQC aggravated its own problems by failing to act quickly to fill 70 posts it eventually received permission for. A spokesman for the Commission said: “We know registration has been a difficult process for everyone involved, which is why we asked the secretary of state to delay registration of GPs by a year to allow us to improve the way we do it – and to allow our staff to dedicate more time to inspection.” But committee chairman Stephen Dorrell MP said the commission had “taken its eye off the ball.”
The Patients Association said the problems were “simply unacceptable.” Chief executive Katherine Murphy said she did not believe the commission had learnt from the problems in Staffordshire. She said: “They are still relying too much on assessments that were completely off the mark in Stafford Hospital. Yes their inspectors should use their judgement but ultimately their workload is such that they have to use their risk assessments and we’re not convinced they are reliable. “Some of the scores they rely on gave Stafford Hospital 20 out of 25 for privacy and dignity-that hospital is now the subject of a public inquiry things were so bad.” She added: “Whilst care providers themselves are primarily responsible for the quality of care they give, the public also put their trust in the CQC and ask them to ensure the very basics of care are provided. They are not currently able to do this.”