‘I’m a commissioner, get me out of here’
By guest blogger JOHN BURTON
Last night I had the bizarre experience of watching the recent CQC board meeting with earphones on while my wife watched ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’ on the TV. As Edwina Currie scrabbled about, feeling for stars and being covered with creepy-crawlies, various CQC commissioners were trying to find something of merit in the reports and proposals put before them, all the time looking as if they would prefer to be somewhere else.
As happens to ‘I’m a celeb’ contestants, some commissioners appear to be wondering if agreeing to take part was a wise decision, because from the evidence of this meeting, CQC is beginning to find that they have set themselves an impossible and thankless task. There can be no doubt that David Behan and his chief inspectors are totally committed to making CQC work, so much so that they have become incapable of taking a step back and thinking. However, the commissioners, who have been drafted in precisely because they can think, ask extremely awkward questions.
The CQC chiefs never fail to congratulate them on the “helpfulness” of their questions while grimacing as if they had just been faced with yet another mouthful of bush tucker, but then struggle to give coherent or relevant answers. Our social care chief inspector’s most frequent phrase was “Um err”. Several commissioners found the latest version of the gobbledegook on “covert surveillance” to be served to the public completely unsuitable for human consumption, and, in the words of Louis Appleby, it “needs entirely rewriting”. What hope is there for readable inspection reports?
CQC is struggling. It is drowning in its own bureaucracy. Bullying is still rife. Whistleblowing has been lumped together with disciplinary problems. They have lost their way with safeguarding. They can’t recruit inspectors. They know they won’t meet the impossible deadlines they’ve set themselves. David Behan admits that inspectors are not getting the support that they need, and have insufficient time for supervision and reflection. Working from home, inspectors find it impossible to meet together. They know that they are not responding to complaints and one of the only two members of the public to attend the meeting said he wouldn’t trust CQC to take action when it’s needed. And, as I have predicted for years now, the quality ratings scheme will end in tears.
David Behan said,”We set the standards as to what goes on in care homes.” That statement alone demonstrates just how destructively wrong-headed this organisation is. It is a classic case of huge effort and expenditure being wasted on trying to do the wrong thing righter. It would not be so bad if the statement wasn’t true. CQC does set the standards and virtually the whole of social care is compelled to put CQC’s demands above the needs of their clients. Winterbourne View and Stafford Hospital were both examples of organisations that had lost their core task, and were working to satisfy the demands of those above them instead of caring for their residents and patients.
No wonder Robert Francis spent the whole meeting looking as if he’d swallowed a wasp.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.