Those who can, do – those who can’t, redefine the task

Posted on May 31st, by geoff in CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

I am somewhat envious of the Care Quality Commission’s apparent freedom to redefine its role at will. It seems that the regulator aspires to produce holistic assessments of the quality of care in a local area in order to encourage improvement, and this at a time when its purse-strings are being tightened.

I am tempted to suggest to my boss that I spend the next six months travelling around the planet, reporting on social care issues so as to place the UK in a more global context. I can confidently predict that he would express some doubt about my ability to embark on this praiseworthy odyssey and at the same time continue to meet my current publishing deadlines, while incurring no extra expense.

I cannot help but wonder how CQC’s political masters view the regulator’s intention to broaden its remit. I find it difficult to reconcile approbation with the obligation to spend taxpayers’ money wisely.

The proposed local area assessments must have the object of informing government policy – more reports to be politely welcomed and blithely ignored. And how valid would these reports be? What weighting does one give to a 60-bed care home rated Outstanding, compared to the weighting accorded to a shonky dentist who interacts with possibly hundreds of citizens in the same area?

Holistic assessments undoubtedly have their value – a plethora of scientific disciplines have each done their bit to establish climate change as an undeniable process, and to identify the causative factors. CQC, however, lacks the dispassionate yardsticks and objectivity of the worldwide scientific community. The regulator has already set itself the difficult task of quantifying quality in its present functions. Could this self-directed reinvention of its role be tacit acknowledgment of its lack of capacity to discharge its current functions, and so create an alternative niche for itself?

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

One response to “Those who can, do – those who can’t, redefine the task”

  1. My sense is that if the current direction of travel is towards more integration of health and care (seen, for example, in the move of 400 local authority workers in Salford to the local Foundation Trust, which will act as an ‘Accountable Care Organisation’), then it makes sense for the CQC and NHS Improvement to move towards a more integrated, system-wide approach to regulation, rather than looking at one organisation at a time.

    If you don’t do this, you run the risk of having the kind of ‘beggar-my-neighbour’ situation in social care that we’ve recently seen in the NHS in Lancashire, with Chorley having to close its A&E Department partly because neighbouring hospital trusts were poaching locum staff, leaving it short-handed. My concern, especially in the light of the Risk Register noted at the its last Board meeting, is that CQC doesn’t have the resources to meet its current targets, let alone more integrated ones.

    Cuts to the CQC budget, especially if (as David Behan has mooted) they lead to staff reductions, are unlikely to help here.

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