Forecast: new low, CQC – warnings of gales in Whitehall
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
Last week the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) published a report which condemned the health and social care regulatory framework as being “out of date, over-complicated and too expensive”. Without mentioning it by name, the PSA has put its boot firmly into the Care Quality Commission, the third generation national regulator of health and social care; a ‘new broom’ body which might like to be seen as busily sweeping away the unfortunate errors of its predecessors.
The PSA is bang on the money on all three counts. Out of date: The CQC still thinks of itself as a policeman rather than a partner and is hampered by an unhealthy Orwellian obsession with power. Over-complicated: it is no surprise that regulatory litigation has been a growth area in the world of wig and gown in recent years. Many, probably most, providers still find it hard to get their head around the CQC’s Byzantine methodology (which is why they are spending more on lawyers). Too expensive: well, one has only to consider the 9% hike in registration fees this year – how else are they going to fund eight inspectors turning up at a care home to inspect it (eight! Come on, I ask you), money from the Government?
But this report from the PSA (and no, I hadn’t heard of them before either) makes my antennae twitch. Just as the Tory administration is getting into its stride, breaking its more breakable promises such as delaying the introduction of the cap on care fees by five years, we get this report calling for radical reform of the regulatory framework. I suspect that this report comes as no surprise to Cameron and his Cabinet. I suspect there may have been a nod and a wink over the dry vermouth. The Government is content to let social care peg along on its own; why spend out on a super regulator when the money could go to fund more populist policies such as seven-day GP surgeries? I suspect it won’t be long before we see the deregulation taskforce wheeled out and dusted down.
I venture to predict that within two years, the care sector will have to weather yet another squall of regulatory instability.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.