Health Committee slams CQC management

Senior management at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), including chief executive, Cynthia Bower, have come under attack from the House of Commons Health Committee for allowing its priorities to become distorted by the deadline for the registration of dentists. This led directly to a drop of 70 per cent in inspection activity during the second half of 2010-11.

The committee reports that:
  • The CQC was established without sufficiently clear and realistic definition of its priorities and objectives
  • The timescales and resource implications of the functions of the CQC were not properly analysed
  • The registration process itself was not properly tested and proven before it was rolled out
  • The CQC failed to draw the implications of these failures adequately to the attention of ministers, Parliament and the public.

In the light of these findings, the committee welcomes the government’s decision to postpone registration of GP practices, and recommends that proper planning, including piloting of the model for registration, should be undertaken before the revised date of April 2013 is confirmed.

Other findings are:
The Committee has already reported its views that the priority attached by the CQC over the past 12 months to the registration of new providers represented a distortion of priorities. If this extension of registration activity was required management should have ensured that it was resourced in a way which did not affect the core existing activity of the CQC and should have resisted pressure from ministers or elsewhere to adopt a registration policy which it is now clear was inadequately prepared or resourced.

The current regulations governing registration have imposed difficult and occasionally inflexible restrictions on the CQC’s procedures. It is regrettable that this was neither foreseen nor addressed before the vast majority of providers had already fought through the process. Nevertheless we welcome the Government’s review of the regulations. We urge the CQC and the Government to work closely together and with providers during this consultation period to ensure that all future registrations (and in particular that of primary care providers) can be conducted in a proportionate manner within adequate timeframes.

The CQC must also accept responsibility for its poor handling of registration and adapt its processes accordingly. In particular, the process could have been made significantly simpler and swifter for all involved had the CQC adapted registration procedures to different types of services. It is astonishing that it could ever have been considered sensible for small dental practices to work through the same process as a large hospital.

The full report can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6cnwxoa
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