A third of hospitals at which Care Quality Commission inspectors raised concerns about care of the elderly received no follow-up visit, Nursing Times can reveal.
This is despite the regulator telling MPs last month it had “gone back to” “all” the trusts visited last year as part of a wave of reviews into dignity and nutrition standards for older people, carried out at 100 hospitals.
CQC data seen by Nursing Times reveals 18 of the 55 trusts in which concerns were found received no follow-up inspection.
Instead, trusts were asked to supply “action plans” or were issued with “improvement actions”. In some instances, the CQC received “additional assurance” from a trust’s strategic health authority or primary care trust that improvements were underway.
However, the regulator appeared to give a different impression to the House of Commons public accounts committee during a one-off meeting on 24 January.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge MP asked CQC head of operations Amanda Sherlock how many of the 55 the regulator had “gone back to”.
Ms Sherlock replied: “All”.
Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary Fitzgerald said Nursing Times’ findings tallied with initial findings his organisation was currently “exploring”. “We’re engaging in discussions with the CQC,” he added.
During the public inquiry into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, CQC whistleblower Amanda Pollard said inspectors’ growing workloads were making it difficult for them to carry out follow-up visits.
The extra workload had been sparked by the regulator’s decision last year to increase the number of initial inspections carried out to ensure each organisation received at least one unannounced visit annually.
A CQC spokeswoman said: “As Amanda Sherlock stated, we have ‘gone back’ to all 55 trusts where we identified concerns with either dignity or nutrition. In 37 of these cases – which included all with major or moderate concerns – this involved an unannounced inspection, which led to enforcement action in at least one case.
At a further 18 trusts where less serious concerns were identified, we required action plans to demonstrate how improvements were being made, in some cases seeking additional assurance from commissioners.”