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CQC inspections reveal failure to meet standards on drugs and staffing


Medicines management and staffing have been identified as key issues in a quarter of health and social care sites judged to be failing to meet essential standards of care.

The Care Quality Commission published a major report last week revealing a “snapshot” of performance by health and social care providers in England. It was based on unannounced inspections at over 14,000 locations – both NHS and independent sector – between June 2011 and March 2012.

Around a quarter of sites failed to meet all the CQC’s essential standards and 1% merited urgent intervention from the regulator.

The report revealed 17% of sites failed to meet medicines management standards, with inspectors seeing a “worrying number” of cases where the risks were not being properly managed. This was often due to a lack of information given to those taking the medicines or those caring for them, the CQC said. 

Meanwhile, 11% failed on staffing standards, including actual numbers of staff and the support they were receiving.

“The non-availability of temporary staff and organisations leaving vacancies open for a number of months – particularly for qualified staff – can lead to compromises in the quality of care given to people, and staff training and supervision,” the CQC warned.

In addition, 15% of locations failed to meet essential standards on record keeping. Issues ranged from records being incomplete or not up-to-date, not kept securely or confidentially, or not showing that risks to people had been identified and were being managed.

CQC head of communications Chris Day, one of the report’s authors, admitted the figures were “disappointing”, but he said the report would establish a baseline for future improvement.

“It is a concern that providers are not meeting essential standards but what we are doing in this report is trying to highlight real areas of risk…we hope providers take a step back and look at their organisations and see how they measure up,” he said.

The CQC specifically highlighted maternity departments as an area of concern, noting that midwife numbers were not keeping pace with factors such as the rising birth rate and more complicated births. 

Royal College of Midwives deputy general secretary Louise Silverton called the report “deeply concerning”.

“A failure to have adequate numbers of midwives leads to mistakes and lower quality care,” she said. “It is also not just the ratio that matters but also the skills and experience of the staff.”


Readers' comments (5)

  • so what happens now?

    are we going to get more staff who can actually spend time doing a drug round, uninterrupted by phone calls, patients calling out and colleagues just asking 'have you got a minute'.

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  • More staff please I beg so the morning drug round do not finish at 11:30hrs due to having to help the one other person working with you to get patients up for breakfast or toilet as some times 2 people are necessary to move a patient. Or being called away to answer the phone , or/and need to talk to doctors, physio, OT, Social Worker etc while doing the drug round. Ward sister requiring you to do the oxygen and suction check as you do your drug round , need to do the blood pressure,pulse,respiration,
    temperature so the observations of the patients don't go long overdue. Your one Health Carer is busy with toileting and washing and trying hard to help with some observation as well. Niping in behine the curtains to see the pressure sore your Health Care Assistant observed while washing a patient and called you for advice. Having to go several times to the stock cupboards or call pharmacy to get medication that is not in the trolley or the patint's locker.No one refill the last medicine used as they were rushing around the day before as short staff and the day before that. Break time well, if you can get one, but not being paid for break time and so tired you need to take the break otherwise you could make a terrible mistake with the next drug round that is sooner than you will like.

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  • Anonymous | 1-Jul-2012 2:15 pm

    I wouldn't stay in a job like that if I was unable to be in full command of what I was doing!

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  • Tabards - do not disturb nurse on drug round should be compulsory to wear.

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  • I agreed 100%, CQC your findings are correct..How are you going to address this issue with both NHS and independent sectors. The problems is far more than is being reported here and one of the reasons as organizations are crying that there is no money because of this recession business whilst putting patient and nurses' lives at risk..Large amount of paperwork is also a causative factor not to mention discrimination as another contributor that destroys self esteem on nurses from ethnic minority backgrounds, this then leads to lots of clinical errors including medication etc. CQC, now you got your findings, what is the way forward?

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