The Department of Health is to blame for the failings of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO).
The NAO report claims that the CQC has been left hugely understaffed by the Coalition’s recruitment freeze, leading to fallen levels of inspection activity and the inability to spot serious cases of abuse.
Over the past year serious concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the CQC which has been accused of missing some of the worst cases of abuse and poor standards of care in nursing homes and hospitals.
It has now been revealed that the watchdog was prevented by the Department of Health from recruiting over 100 inspectors to investigate poor and dangerous practises in hospitals and care homes.
By September this year 14 per cent of all posts at the regulator were vacant – with four out of 10 of the unfilled jobs related to registration or inspection.
This is despite the fact that the CQC has underspent on its budget by £42m. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said:
"Against a backdrop of considerable upheaval, the CQC has had an uphill struggle to carry out its work effectively and has experienced serious difficulties.”
As a result, at one stage last year, the Care Quality Commission was carrying out fewer than 130 inspections for safety and quality a month – less than half its target.
The CQC was created in 2009 from a merger of three existing regulators. It was criticised recently for failing to investigate the abuse of residents at Winterbourne View care home, which was eventually revealed by the BBC’s Panorama programme.
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