Created through the 2008 Health and Social Care Act, the UK’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for inspecting and regulating the provision of health and social services. In short, as its title suggests, it’s meant to ensure that the care on offer is of the highest quality. That, at least, is the idea.
Since the CQC became operational in 2009, however, the reality has been somewhat different. In fact, under the auspices of the CQC, the caring professions have stumbled from one scandal to another. In 2011, for instance, an undercover BBC Panorama team filmed carers shouting at, and slapping, elderly patients at the Winterbourne View care home. Earlier this year, the Francis Report into the high mortality rate at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust hospitals reported that 200 to 300 deaths between 2005 and 2009 may have been caused by negligence. The report also uncovered appalling instances of neglect, from patients drinking water from vases to being left to lie in their own waste.
And now, following recent revelations that top-level CQC staff attempted to suppress the results of an investigation into the deaths of mothers and babies at Furness General Hospital, the CQC finds itself at the centre of a scandal.
Yet, the response to each scandal, even when it involves the regulator itself, has been uniform: a repeated call for more regulation and transparency in the healthcare sector.
Here are just a few of the latest proposals: establishing an Ofsted-style inspectorate for the medical profession; the publication of consultants’ success/failure rates on the NHS website; and the introduction of ‘new’ headboards on patients’ beds specifying a named nurse responsible for the particular patient and what the patient would like to be called.