Care Quality Commission could improve in it’s delivery of value for money services -the National Audit Committee makes recommendations on how the CQC can improve it’s performance
The work of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been the subject of considerable public interest during recent months triggered by a number of high profile incidents including;
· a BBC Panorama programme in May 2011 which exposed abuse of patients in a residential hospital looking after people with learning disabilities
· the closure in July 2011 of Southern Cross, the largest care provider in the UK
· the examination of the commissioners role in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust which is currently subject to a public enquiry
· the Commissions reports published in October 2011 on dignity and nutrition in NHS hospitals and its investigation in to the Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS trust
Against this backdrop of public interest the National Audit Office (NAO) undertook to examine how the CQC has used its resources in carrying out its quality and safety assurance work.
Whilst recognising that the difficulties face by the CQC in bringing together the work of three organisations in to in a new model of regulating health and adult social care the NAO noted that the public expectations of the CQC are high and whilst its responsibilities are clearly defined they have not always been effectively communicated. This has led the head of the NAO to observe that “There is a gap between what the public and providers expect of the Care Quality Commission and what it can achieve as a regulator. The Commission and the Department of Health should make clear what successful regulation of this critical sector would look like."
The NAO noted that the ultimate measure of the CQCs value for money is the impact of its regulation on the quality of safety of care. In the absence of measures of impact the CQC assessed value for money in terms of delivery against what the CQC set out to deliver in terms of quality and safety assurance and concluded that, in the majority of cases, the CQC did not meet its deadlines. The NAO also commented that the responsibility for funding the CQCs regulatory activities is falling increasingly on the providers of the service rather than by the Department of
Health and that it is moving towards full cost recovery.
To it’s credit the CQC has welcomed and acknowledged the findings and comments of the NAO’s examination and reaffirmed it’s dedication to protecting those who use the health and social care services. In so doing it will continue to take steps to improve its performance including those recommendations of the NAO findings which include;
· making clear what success looks like in terms of measurable outcomes
· addressing shortcomings in its performance management arrangements
· drawing on previous registrations to develop detailed plans for registering GP practices
· better support and inform its compliance inspectors to help them make sound and consistent judgements
· review the effectiveness of its whistle blowing arrangements
· assess the viability and resource impact of extending the its role