30 March 2012
We are disappointed that the PAC report, based on last year’s NAO report, does not recognise the significant improvements of recent months. These improvements were noted in the Performance and Capability Review published by the Department of Health in February, which referred to CQC’s ‘considerable’ achievements in “setting the essential platform from which tougher regulatory action can be taken when needed”.
The number of unannounced inspections conducted by CQC continues to rise on a monthly basis - 2,400 in January alone. The unique regulatory system we have built is now nearly two years old, and is delivering increasing benefits for people using health and social care services - as well as those whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act. Our focus, now and always, is to identify and tackle poor care and protect people who use services.
We have responded to some of the key conclusions of the PAC report below. CQC’s full response to the DH Capability and Performance review will be published in April; this addresses in detail the other issues raised by the PAC report.
The assertion that CQC “has recently closed its dedicated whistleblowing hotline” is inaccurate. CQC has not abolished any whistleblowing hotline – in fact we have recently strengthened our arrangements for dealing with whistleblowers. A team of call handlers has been specially trained to deal with whistleblowing calls and is responsible for tracking calls through to a satisfactory conclusion with CQC inspectors. Since this specialist team was set up in June 2011, it has received over 3000 calls.
CQC asked the Secretary of State for additional time to get GP registration right, and we are on track to deliver this major piece of work successfully by April 2013. GPs will be subject to the same risk-based model of compliance monitoring and inspections as the rest of the NHS and social care - and will be expected to meet the same essential standards of quality and safety.
CQC will be reviewing every registration application in conjunction with information from other sources including the GMC, Criminal Records Bureau checks and whistleblowers. If we have concerns, we will visit the practice and conduct an interview - as we have already done with Out of Hours providers.
Information provided to the public
CQC already publishes an annual ‘state of care’ report which provides details of compliance and enforcement action across all sectors. From May we will also publish a quarterly update of this information in order to provide a more up-to-date picture of performance and better identify emerging trends.
Our new website, which has a clear system of ticks and crosses indicating whether or not a provider is meeting essential standards, has made a real difference to how people can use the information we publish, making it easier for them to make choices about their care, or to raise concerns with us.