What many of us already knew has come out – sadly in the worst possible way – the CQC is not up to the job.
Having witnessed several inspections both personally and in the news it was clear the organisation was not functioning correctly. In fact I raised questions at several conferences where we were honoured with CQC speakers and my questions and those of many others were dismissed. What really surprised me is that this already struggling organisations was then given the task of ‘regulating’ hospitals – the most complex part of our care system.
The fundamental problem is that the CQC is labelled as a regulator and not an organisation whose mission is to help improve standards. The result is that there is no room for discussion and in many ways you are bullied into addressing often petty issues rather than the real picture. Worse is that because the inspectors are trained to be ‘regulators’ they are not open to listening. The net result is that a culture of not listening has arisen. We could see that on the ground, but Winterbourne threw in everybody’s face. Not to worry – the government merely started an investigation so all was cool.
Care is provided by people and most want to do a good job. Most care provided is actually very good, but sadly there are also too many instances of bad care, usually because the people have lost interest for whatever reason. Money? Environment? Insecurity? Recognition? Probably all of them, but what we give them is lots of regulations, training to the point where people can no longer think for themselves and lots of telling off. Where is the support, the recognition for what is often a difficult and thankless task? Where is the listening? Certainly not at CQC.
In many organisations I have found that even if a member of staff or a group of them follows all the rules, they in fact do not achieve the results we are looking for. So organisations may tick all kinds of little boxes, but overall the result, in this case care, is not achieved. It gets worse as the CQC does not listen to what is reported, but sticks solidly to their own tick sheets. They have proven this at conferences, Winterbourne and no doubt other care homes and now hospitals.
Equally scary is the time it takes to recognise these deficiencies. It has been known for years this regulator was failing, yet it was allowed to continue. In fact successive governments have simply piled on the problems
Now a new CEO has been put it and he has taken the actions needed and is being beaten around the head for it, because he did not want to name the individuals. It is not about the individuals, it is about the culture and the culture stems from the government departments. Castigating the individuals in the press is not going to solve the problems. It will only serve to deflect.
What is going to happen now? Well the first individuals have been named so they will somehow be punished – first in the press by the public and then presumably some legal process will start and the taxpayer will have to pay them millions in damages.
Then the name will be changed and a new website will be created. This will be at huge expense to you and me again.
Until the CEO gets the room to put in a large group of new people, preferably very quickly, there will be little culture change. Unless he can change the mission of the CQC to one of improving care in the UK it will be the same sh.. over and over.
It is easy to make this kind of mistakes, even in our own organisations. CQC is simply bigger.