Council calls for parliamentary review of the CQC
By Jaimie Kaffash
3 December 2009
Southwark council has called for an urgent parliamentary review of the Care Quality Commission after the watchdog said the authority needed extra support for adult social services.
In a hard-hitting statement, the CQC warned the London Borough of Southwark, along with seven other councils, that their adult care services ‘urgently’ needed improvements. However, Southwark chief executive Annie Shepherd called the review ‘flawed and inaccurate’.
The commission released its assessment of 148 councils’ adult social services today and praised overall improvements. But it said Southwark, Cornwall, Bromley, Poole, South Tyneside, Peterborough, Surrey and Solihull were providing only ‘adequate’ services and needed to improve.
But Shepherd denied that the council’s complaints about the CQC were because it had received a low rating. ‘The reason we have to object is because when regulators get it wrong, it lowers public confidence,’ she said. ‘It is serious because local authorities make changes to the way they deliver services and make investment decisions based upon these reports. But we have no confidence that CQC have got this right.
She claimed that the regulator refused to discuss the rating with her and countered ‘major inaccuracies’ in the CQC’s claims. These included: the poor level of customer service, which was based on an ‘extremely low’ representative sample; a reduction in carers’ services, which the council completely refutes; and the lack of an independent chair of its safeguarding board, which Southwark said is not a requirement. The authority also pointed out the discrepancies in the CQC’s report and those of other independent regulators, including the Audit Commission.
The chief executive added that she could have ‘no confidence in making recommendations to the council based on the CQC’s claims’.
The commission said that the findings were based ‘on an in-depth on-site inspection’ that included meetings with the council, performance data and self assessment. It added that the assessment had been agreed with the council’s director of adult social services and that an appeal by Southwark had been unsuccessful.
‘Southwark needs to improve in areas such as safeguarding of adults and personalisation of services. We would be keen to discuss these issues further with them and would be happy to meet them at any time,’ a spokesman said.
‘Of course some people don’t like bad news and therefore feel disappointed when they get it. They would rather argue about the process than address the issues that effect real people’s lives. We would strongly suggest that Southwark redirect its energies into areas that would make a real difference to people, particularly as we plan to make the assessment tougher next year.’
The commission found that 95% of councils had been performing ‘well’ or ‘excellently’. None were given the lowest rating of ‘poor’. However, it expressed concern at the standard of care in one in six providers and said that 400 care homes received a ‘poor’ rating. It added that one-quarter of councils were failing to give people choice and control over their care and one-third needed to do more to treat people with ‘dignity and respect’.