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MPs call for overhaul of CQC inspections

The CQC must make its inspections more consistent and clearly define its ‘core purpose’ in order to gain the public’s confidence, concludes a report from an influential committee of MPs.

The review of the regulator by the House of Commons Health Select Committee said the regulator ‘needed to do more’ to define its scope and purpose and that it needed to apply its existing standards effectively.

It also said the health secretary should reconsider whether the CQC should hold the prime responsibility for patient safety. It also added he should work with NICE, Monitor and commissioners to clarify the specific roles of these bodies and the CQC.

The report comes after a tumultuous year for the CQC, with criticisms over its failure to expose abuse in the Winterbourne View care home scandal, and former board member Kay Sheldon identifying failings in the function, organisation, management, and culture of the CQC.

The events contributed to the resignation of CQC chair Dame Jo Williams and chief executive Cynthia Bower last year.

The report said: ‘The CQC has developed a much keener focus on patient safety and has a better appreciation of what it exists to do, but we main to be convinced that the CQC has successfully defined its core purpose.’

It added: ‘The Committee concluded that the CQCs primary focus should be on ensuring that the essential standards it enforces can be interpreted by the public as a guarantee of acceptable standards in care.

‘We do not believe that the CQC’s essential standard in their current form succeed in this objective. As a result, patients, residents and relatives do not have confidence in the CQC’s standards or the outcomes of inspections.’

The PAC said that this year they would continue to oversee how successful the CQC had been in streamlining registration and limiting the bureaucratic burden on GPs.

Mike Farrar, NHS Confederation chief executive, said the CQC should listen to the PAC’s report.

He said: ‘The CQC must use the recommendations to drive through the changes needed to give both the public and NHS leaders confidence in its work. It is in everybody’s interest to have a strong and respected regulator for health and social care in place.’

The CQC’s chief executive, Mr David Behan defended said the CQC has ‘already begun’ to make some of the changes proposed.

He said: ‘In our strategic review we consulted widely on a clear statement of our purpose and role. We also set out our intentions to improve how we communicate with the public, make better use of information, and work more effectively as an organisation and with others, including those who provide care.

‘We have already begun to make some of these changes and will continue this process.’