Care Quality Commission at Health Select Committee accountability hearing

On Tuesday 11 September 2012 the House of Commons Health Select Committee, of which Valerie is a member, heard evidence from Dame Jo Williams, Chair of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Mr David Behan, Chief Executive of the CQC. Dame Jo Williams had resigned as Chair of the CQC before the acountability hearing.

The CQC is responsible for regulating all health and adult social care providers in England. Concerns have been raised about the CQC’s conduct following their failure to prevent incidents such as those at the Winterbourne View private hospital.

Valerie said:

“The CQC has focused on the registration of healthcare practitioners rather than on carrying out inspections to ensure that the standards expected of healthcare practitioners are met. In my view, inspections are crucial to maintaining public confidence in healthcare practitioners and ensuring that abuse, such as that found at the Winterbourne View care home cannot go undetected. It seems that the CQC has been motivated in pursuing this strategy by the income of £90 million it has received from registering healthcare practitioners. I asked the Chair of the CQC to explain this focus on registration. Dame Jo Williams responded that the CQC views registration as a necessary step in regulating healthcare practitioners.”

“Problems have also been identified with the CQC’s collaboration with other regulators, its capacity to fulfil the Government’s plans for them to take on the functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embriology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), staffing and the number of inspectors. Dame Jo Williams confirmed this was Government led . Dame Jo Williamsn confirmed there were difficulties as the HFEA has a remit that covers devolved administrations and the CQC only applies to England and Wales.”

“The CQC’s rigour was called in to question by The Relatives and Residents Association. They have said that some local authorities and other commissioners are undertaking their own inspections because of this. The Chief Executive of the CQC agreed that they need to embrace some of the comments made, but also believes that there is a need to share information within the industry.”

“I asked about the staffing levels as this was one of the Health Select Committee’s concerns. David Behan said that ‘an additional £10 million’ had been made available which was ‘sufficient for an additional 255 inspectors’. They currently have 49 vacancies and will fill them all by the end of the year. It takes 8 weeks to train an inspector.”

Valerie also asked Dame Jo Williamns to apologise and withdraw comments she made about a whistleblower and she did so.

The transcript of the Committee Hearing can be viewed here.

For more information about the CQC’s accountability hearing at the Health Select Committee, please click here

For more information about the CQC, please click here.