Sir David Behan has announced his intention to step down as chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, the regulator responsible for inspecting and regulating health and social care services.
Organisations representing social care, in particular, paid tribute to Sir David’s contribution to the sector, including its regulation, describing his retirement after 40 years as the “end of an era”.
“We’ve inspected every hospital, adult social care provider and GP practice in the country”
Sir David, who has been in post for six years, will continue in the role until the summer to allow the appointment process for a successor to take place, said the CQC.
He said: “It’s been an immense privilege to serve the public by leading CQC, and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.
“We’ve inspected every hospital, adult social care provider and GP practice in the country – over 28,000 services and providers – and in the process developed a baseline on quality that is unique to anywhere in the world,” he said.
He added: “I now feel it’s time to move on, to make a contribution in a different way and to allow someone else to lead the organisation to the next stage of its development.”
CQC chair Peter Wyman said: “David’s unique combination of passion, vision and deep understanding of the health and care system – along with his personal commitment to putting people at the heart of everything we do – have led CQC to become a catalyst for change that improves the quality of people’s care.”
“We are lucky to have had him at the helm at such a transformational period in the regulator’s history”
Health and social car secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “David has been an exceptional leader, and we are lucky to have had him at the helm at such a transformational period in the regulator’s history.
“He deserves great credit for overhauling healthcare regulation in this country to put quality and safety at the heart of the ratings system,” said Mr Hunt. “He should be incredibly proud of his record, and will be sorely missed.”
The recruitment process for a successor will begin shortly, said the regulator. The appointment of the chief executive is made by the non-executive directors of the CQC.
Sir David was awarded a knighthood for services to health and care in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list, having been made a CBE in 2003.
He was previously the director general of social care, local government and care partnerships at the Department of Health, where he was a member of the NHS management board.
From 1996 to 2003, Sir David was director of social services at London Borough of Greenwich. He was first appointed director of social services for Cleveland in 1994.
“He is a very fair and principled man who will be missed by the sector”
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “Sir David has been at the helm of CQC, and a strong leader in this sector, for a significant amount of time.”
He said: “Long enough to put a stamp on the sector and lay the foundations for a system based on proportionate regulation. He is a very fair and principled man who will be missed by the sector”.
Glen Garrod, vice president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “We congratulate Sir David on a remarkable career in health and social care.
“Sir David’s focus on the quality of services across health and social care reflects a lifelong passion to champion the needs of older and disabled people,” he noted.
“We applaud his determination and dedication to ensuring that brilliant care is available to everyone who needs it,” he said. “We wish him all the best in his retirement and thank him.”
Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, said: “Sir David Behan has made an outstanding contribution to social care through his leadership of CQC over the last six years.
“His knowledge and understanding of adult social care and particularly from the perspective of people who use services has shaped and informed his leadership of the regulators responsibility across both social care and health,” he said.
In response to the intention to recruit a replacement for Sir David, he added that it was “critical that the new leadership of CQC comes with a solid understanding of both social care and health”.
”The value of the regulator understanding the potential of integrated systems was recognised in their local systems reviews of social care and health systems,” he said. “Sir David has recognised this important role and his knowledge and experience of both elements of the system has been instrumental in shaping CQCs understanding of what good integrated provision should both look like and crucially deliver.”