PAC: Health regulator has ‘persistent weaknesses’

9 Mar 18

The next chief executive of the Care Quality Commission will inherit an organisation with “persistent weaknesses and looming challenges”, MPs have warned.

The independent regulator of health and adult social care in England is due a new chief executive in the summer, when the current chief executive Sir David Behan will step down after six years.

“Sir David’s successor will inherit a mixture of persistent weaknesses and looming challenges,” chair of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier said in a report released today.

“These must be tackled amid Commission funding cuts and continued financial pressure across the health and care sectors.” 

Although, Hillier noted: “The regulator has improved significantly under his stewardship but there is no room for complacency.” 

The PAC highlighted improvements had been made in the timeliness of hospital inspection reports since 2015 - but more still had to be done. 

In quarter one of 2017-18 - for hospitals where fewer than three services were inspected - only 25% of reports were published within 50 days target. The target is 90%.

The PAC has called on the CQC to work alongside NHS England and NHS Improvement to produce timely post-inspection reports, and to report back by April 2019 on how many trusts are hitting timeliness targets.

The report also notes that GPs have felt burdened by the process of the CQC’s regulation practices. The PAC has suggested the CQC continued working with the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association to reduce this burden of regulation without compromising on quality. 

Sir Behan said: “We acknowledge that there is more to be done and staff are actively working to deliver on the key recommendations, such as decreasing the time taken to publish our hospital inspection reports and the improvement of our digital monitoring systems.

“In accepting the committee’s recommendations, we do not underestimate the task at hand.”

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