Friday, March 30, 2012

When watchdogs get distemper

So MPs at last seem to be getting the message that CQC (Care Quality Commission), the care 'industry' watchdog, really isn't up to the job.

Readers of this blog will know I used to be a fan of it's predecessor CSCI which did much to keep the worst excesses of the 'care industry' under control, acted fairly firmly on incidents of abuse but was also flexible enough to see innovation as positively contributing to best practice.

CQC on the other hand, was set up with much reduced staff, much wider responsibilities and a new chair and chief executive bringing their own baggage of previous failure and censure to a critical and sensitive role. Presumably they couldn't get anyone better because the brief was to make a large silk purse out of a very small pigs ear. The result was an organization that relied on care service providers to increasingly police themselves. It instituted a tick box culture that relied on providers 'self assessments' to shop themselves if they weren't up to scratch (highly unlikely). It was so under and poorly staffed that it couldn't even dealt with whistleblowers concerns in anything like a timely manner. It desperately took on more and more responsibilities in a grandiose attempt to make size look like quality. It refused to consider any innovations that didn't fit the 'rule book' regardless of whether they improved care or not. And it took a Panorama investigation to blow the gaff on the blatant abuses going on that it had already been told about.

You'll have gathered our own experience has been somewhat jaundiced - caused by bitter experience that had a day to day detrimental effect on the quality of my own sons life, where insistence on the tick boxes prevented improvements in his care. (Details are in previous posts.)

So who is watching the watcher. I would have thought that by now the government would have got the message from many individual complaints as well as the high profile abuse failures, that CQC isn't up to the job. It sounds from this article that some MPs are at last getting the message. I certainly hope so - this government has just forced a bill through that will drastically disrupt the health services and a series of cuts that are decimating care services. If we ever needed a care and health watchdog, we need one now. What we actually have is a failed and discredited, floundering bureaucracy.

There seems little option now but for all of us involved in care to take responsibility ourselves. Whistleblowing and complaints - unfortunately 'after the event' solutions - are going to have to be the tools of choice. There isn't much else available. It's up to us now.

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