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Care home and hospital spot checks to follow CQC report


Hundreds of hospitals and care homes face unannounced spot checks under plans to “root out” problems.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will announce the drive in the wake of a report by the Care Quality Commission that raised serious concerns about the treatment of elderly patients.

The latest wave of inspections will cover 50 hospitals, 150 centres housing people with learning disabilities, and 500 elderly care homes.

The CQC will focus on “core dignity issues” such as privacy and standards of nutrition.

In a speech, Mr Lansley will insist NHS organisations “owe it to their local communities” to improve performance.

“Too often, we deny the experience of patients and their family members who have been at the sharp end of appalling treatment,” he is to say.

“This is why I asked the CQC to do more unannounced inspections in our hospitals and in care homes, and to take tough action if what they find is unacceptable.

“I want to modernise the NHS because I believe it can and should offer excellent care to every patient, no matter where they live, how old they are or how sick they are; combining access for all with excellence for all.

“I want the NHS to lead the world in everything it does, not just some of what it does.

“Unless we face up to its challenges; unless we take action when it lets patients down, it will never be able to do this.”

Mr Lansley will accuse a succession of Labour health secretaries, including Andy Burnham, of having failed to get a grip on the situation. “Where there is great care, we will celebrate it,” he is to say. “But wherever there are pockets of poor performance, we will root it out.”

The pledge comes as Liberal Democrat peers signalled the end of their rebellion against the government’s controversial NHS reforms.

The government on Tuesday accepted an amendment to the legislation clarifying that the secretary of state will remain directly responsible for health service provision across England.

In a letter to the Guardian, Lib Dem peers including Baroness Shirley Williams wrote: “The time for declaratory statements is past.

“Patients who care passionately about the NHS and staff who want to give the best possible service, need certainty about the future of the health service.

“Any politician who plays party political games with the NHS would be open to justified public criticism. So it is now imperative that members of the House of Lords get on with their job of subjecting this bill to detailed, rigorous scrutiny.”

The letter made clear how important they regard the climbdown by Mr Lansley over his stated role. “In order to safeguard the NHS, free at the point of need and accessible to all, Liberal Democrat peers are putting forward amendments which require the secretary of state to remain responsible for health services being provided across England,” it insisted.

However, shadow health secretary Mr Burnham will use an Opposition Day debate to up his rhetoric on the reforms, dubbing them “Cameron’s NHS betrayal”.


Readers' comments (9)

  • Oh for crying out loud, when will they get the damn message? 'Reports' by the CQC are useless, 'unannounced' spot checks will be just as useless, because they simply criticise without trying to fix the underlying problems such as staffing levels, skill mix, poor working conditions, etc etc etc etc etc.

    Lansley is a disgrace, and does not deserve to be in his post.

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  • michael stone

    mike | 26-Oct-2011 9:19 pm

    Unannounced spot checks are NOT 'useless' - but they are only a partial solution, to the full range of problems, which are very complex in nature !

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  • @ mike

    I agree with Michael here Mike, CQC reports are not useless and the hospital boards take their reports very seriously. The findings are addressed in this hospital and the other three hospitals in this area with actions taken on every point.

    Don't judge the commission by Lansley's standards - spot checks help keep hospitals in check

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  • Okay guys, fair point well made. But what about the fact (and I have seen this time and time again) that CQC inspectors issue reports and make recommendations, with absolutely no effort made to correct the cause of the problems? And that is making the big assumption that they even have an understanding of the root causes?

    The CQC are toothless, they have been for a long time. I take the point that in some cases, action has been taken, but this is far from the norm and in many cases they have been powerless to act (case in point when I reported unsafe staffing levels at a particular place only to be told there was nothing they could do). If they were a lot more forceful in ordering trusts and management to sort things out across the board, then I may be a little more optimistic about this. The truth is trust management and execs KNOW the root of many of these problems, they have done for a long time. But refuse to do anything about them at all because the solutions go against their business/profit motive model.

    As for Lansley desert deserter, well I won't get started on him again!

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  • michael stone

    mike | 27-Oct-2011 11:43 am

    The person in charge of the CQC is very passionate, about trying to improve health care - I have heard her, on Radio 4.

    But I'm not certain exactly what powers they have to impose change - I think they can close places down completely, but surely the hospital's management should be making the improvements ?

    I think the point is, the CQC reports can 'shine a light on dark corners' and the hope is that having dragged bad behaviour out into the open, where everyone can see it, that behaviour will be improved.

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  • checks on services to patients and residents of care homes are essential, even though professionals working in them should be capable of self regulation! However, when failures are spotted by inspectors, such as the CQC, are the services then being provided with adequate facilities and resources to follow recommendations made?
    It should be a question of providing the required resources or closure and no question of just soldiering on and patching up with the promise of improvements. this is still to the detriment/danger of the current patients/clientele if they are in receipt of inadequate care in poor facilities.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 28-Oct-2011 8:59 am

    'It should be a question of providing the required resources or closure and no question of just soldiering on and patching up with the promise of improvements.'

    Yes. But the role of the CQC, appears to be to highlight the under-performance itself. It then become the responsibility of the management to achieve adequate performance with it resources, or to lobby for more resources - I don't think those things are the CQC's role. I think the CQC is just the MOT tester, who reports which things pass and fail: how you repair the car, to get it to pass the test, is not down to the CQC.

    As usual, it is helpful to clearly sort out who does what - and the shortage of money, etc, which might hamper performance, is an argument between hospitals and politicians in narrow terms, and an argument within society as a whole in wider terms.

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  • Michael Stone, I now usually ignore your posts as I wish to discuss the issues with my nursing colleagues who have undergone professional nurse training and are familiar with the issues in the articles. you tend to waste a lot of time going off at a tangent with irrelevant points. However, as you did not read my post properly and jump to our own conclusions I would like to point out that
    my post did not mention or discuss whose role it is! I am just querying the usefulness of the exercise of making these inspections, with other nurses if you please, if the resources are not made available improvements and the provision of excellent service which nurses and other healthcare professionals and workers have been employed to provide to patients, and which should be a seamless service.

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  • M. Stone

    correction to typos above which are obvious but in case you have any doubts:

    "...jump to our own conclusions..."
    should read '...your own conclusions...'

    "...not made available improvements..."
    '...not made available for improvements...'

    I am typing on a pay as you go Wifi connection so have to read and type as fast as possible to save enough GB for other work.

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