‘A dream appointment for CQC’ says National Care Forum as Behan takes regulator’s reins
By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON
David Behan’s appointment as the new chief executive of the Care Quality Commission has been widely welcomed by care providers.
A career public servant, David Behan has cut a charismatic figure on the social care scene since 1978. Before becoming the health department’s director general of social care in 2006, he held the post of chief inspector for the former regulator, the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
He knows the turf – anyone who has heard him speak at conferences and other events cannot fail to be struck by his grasp of the issues and the evident sincerity with which he imbues his advocacy for the wellbeing and protection of older people and others who depend upon social care services.
“David Behan is the dream appointment for the CQC,” said Des Kelly, executive director of the National Care Forum, when Mr Behan’s appointment was announced. “He is hugely respected in the sector and will bring considerable credibility to the role.”
However, the national regulator for health and social care has travelled a rocky road since it was formed in 2009 and Mr Behan is reported to have thought long and hard before applying for a post that many consider to be a poisoned chalice.
“The difficult initial period of the first national integrated health and social care regulator has become a matter of public record,” said Des Kelly with his customary understatement.
“For social care providers, the transition from the Commission for Social Care Inspection to the Care Quality Commission has proved to be disappointing.”
The CQC has demonstrably lost the confidence of government, both central and local, the care providers it regulates and the wider public. Care providers had been wringing their hands over the CQC’s shambolic ineffectiveness long before it’s failure to act on information it had about abusive practice was gloated over by the national media in its coverage of the Winterbourne View scandal. Some would say the regulator was too poorly resourced to fulfill its remit, others would argue that the resources it did have were ineffectively deployed.
Whatever, David Behan has his work cut out for him. Following the health department’s capability review of the CQC, the organisation has been set three core challenges: to become more strategic in its approach and define more clearly what successful care provision looks like, not least by reference to quality and outcomes; to strengthen its own board to clarify accountabilities, almost certainly by including the chief executive and other senior staff on it; and to make its regulatory process more systematic, consistent and proportionate to the level of risk in different parts of health and social care. This all sounds very familiar – the question has to be, will David Behan succeed where his predecessors in the NCSC, CSCI and the Care Quality Commission all failed? He probably has the best chance of anyone.