This year, next year, sometime, never?
By guest blogger JOHN BURTON
In December, after their savage questioning of the chief executive and the Department of Health Permanent Secretary, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reported that CQC was “not yet an effective regulator”. True. Six years ago, in the run-up to the 2010 general election, I published an article anticipating that CQC would be swept away by a new government in the promised “bonfire of the quangos”. I set out a scheme for the effective localised inspection of social care.
My prediction was wrong. CQC was not only preserved, it was expanded. Under very poor direction, it failed spectacularly, and the Public Accounts Committee (among others) ripped it to pieces. The top management was eventually prised out, protesting to the last that it wasn’t their fault.
Instead of rethinking the whole thing, ministers and the Department of Health persisted with a fundamentally flawed design and no clear purpose, and appointed new managers and board to make it work. However, while the new management have tried their best to improve it, after three years of effort, it still doesn’t work. And it never will.
No matter what CQC do (and they never say no to taking on more), regulation and inspection are going in the wrong direction, taking the whole of social care with them. Unfortunately, the better it becomes at going in the wrong direction, the further from the right destination it gets.
The board of CQC has a new Chair. At the December board meeting CQC was still reeling from the PAC verdict, but the new incumbent had not yet taken up his position. We now have another chance to change direction and, for all I know, that may be why Jeremy Hunt has chosen this particular person. If not, we will have to wait until, as before, some terrible public scandal of poorly inspected care blasts open an opportunity for real change. Then we must summon the courage, vision and determination to make the change. The costs of timid collusion are a thousand times bigger than the proposed new fees. Let’s not fail again.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.