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'Massive increase' in clinical inspectors as checks reveal dignity failings


A fifth of hospitals are failing on dignity and nutrition standards, Care Quality Commission inspections have found.

Work on inspecting 100 hospital trusts on the standards began in February immediately after a damning report from the health ombudsman revealed widespread poor care of the elderly.

Reports from the final batch of inspections were published last week and revealed worse results than the regulator expected.

Overall, a fifth of trusts were non-compliant, while a further 35% were told they needed to do more to remain compliant and were issued with “improvement actions”.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said the biggest problem was staffing.

“Sometimes it’s about numbers or skills mix but sometimes you have extremely well staffed organisations and it’s about how they recruit, train and support the people they have in place,” she said.

Safeguarding also emerged as an area of weakness, which Ms Bower said was “undoubtedly” linked to the “training problem”.

She also revealed the CQC planned a “massive increase” in the number of nurses and doctors it employed to inspect hospitals.

“We’ll make efficiencies internally…so we can afford to bring in clinicians on short term contracts and train more ‘experts by experience’ [clinicians with specialist knowledge],” she said.

Currently the CQC uses a pool of only around 20 clinicians, calling on specialists when required. Overall there are about 800 inspectors, a figure the CQC wants to boost by 15%.

The decision is likely to be welcomed by Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes, who in written evidence to the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust inquiry, criticised the CQC for carrying out inspections with only the “loose involvement” of nurses or midwives.

At the moment nurses and midwives are invited to accompany non-clinically trained CQC inspectors on visits but are not involved in the process from the start.

The extra inspectors would allow the CQC to visit every organisation unannounced at least once a year, Ms Bower said. In the past year only two thirds of trusts have been inspected.

Failings such as the abuse of learning disability residents at Winterbourne View showed the need for inspectors to “cross the threshold” of an organisation, Ms Bower added.

The CQC has asked the Department of Health for £15m to help fund the changes and is awaiting its response.


Readers' comments (30)

  • What a shocker, the CQC yet again releases yet another report stating that poor care is down to the fact there is hardly any staff, and yet again they are wholly ignored by those in charge and the status quo continues.

    It is time this toothless organisation is scrapped and started all over again, this time staffed with predominantly clinical personel and be given the legal powers to enforce the recomendations made.

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  • mike | 1-Aug-2011 5:57 pm

    "It is time this toothless organisation is scrapped and started all over again,..."

    Absolutely Mike.

    Okay, increase inspections and ensure that the Inspectors are actually qualified to do the job. More important, would be to address the issues that result in poor standards. You know, simple things like acceptable staffing levels; adequate resources; proper training and ongoing support; and actually taking action when Nurses put their livelihood on the line to expose poor care and abuse. Inspecting Hospitals to death won't help. Until, appropriate measures are put in place and Nurses are no longer used as easy scapegoats, nothing will change.

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  • There are 120 jobs going if the CQC get their way, whilst nursing jobs are being cut - seems to make sense in this current improvement of the NHS (sarcastic comment)

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  • Sorry for above comment, but makes my blood boil!!

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  • surely more effective working of the CQC by suitable selected and trained staff and engaging more professional front line nurses would be the sensible way to go to ensure safe patient care.

    once again too many incompetent uncaring under qualified chiefs running after cushy jobs and higher pay and not enough competent qualified caring Indians!

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 2-Aug-2011 0:21 am

    There are 120 jobs going if the CQC get their way, whilst nursing jobs are being cut - seems to make sense in this current improvement of the NHS (sarcastic comment

    If that's the case then i'm off to get a job with the CQC, can't make any more of a hash of it than they are doing and might actually show some interest in the quality of care being provided as i have an understanding of what happens on the frontline and actually give some of the managers allowing their staffing levels to drop a good ear bashing and some food for thought before the police are called to haul me away for causing a disruption!

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  • tinkerbell

    because when the CQC came to do our inspection i had to spend at least half an hour explaining to one of them how the lock on the sluice room door worked and how in their opinion it could be improved. I responded as pleasantly as i could, whilst losing the will to live, and hoped they were satisfied, that indeed, improvements could be made to the sluice room door lock and they would be implemented. I think this half hour that could have been better deployed at Castlebeck. What a panto!Nice though these old duffers are that come round from the CQC are what about some action on what really needs sorting!

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  • tinkerbell | 2-Aug-2011 10:14 am

    Hello Tinkerbell

    When they raise the retirement age do you think this might be a suitable pre-retirement job? what working conditions are they offering? I would need a comfortable company car at the high end of the market, generous petrol allowance, relocation allowance for myself and my family, good pension to top up my dwindling one, meal vouchers, career structure with CPD, top end of the salary scale, short full-time working hours, preferably limited to one visit a day, and a high tech office with secretarial support to write my reports and prepare my coffee! I hope I haven't forgotten anything!

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 2-Aug-2011 10:30 am

    sorry i thought it was more of a 'hobby' for 'pin money', but so long as you still have your own teeth, i still have mostly all of mine, so at least we won't be 'toothless' and with Mike & Mags & et al above onboard we can give them a run for their money before the fat lady sings. As i am due to retire next year i could do possibly 2 days a week on a voluntary basis from home, if i have enough energy left, as pretty knackered now from fighting this bloody battle called 'nursing'.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 2-Aug-2011 10:30 am

    you forgot a nice 'clip board' by the way.

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