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Bow-wow announces her departure from CQC

Cynthia Bower will be paid her £200k salary until September, and will then be able to take a £200k lump sum and a £65k p.a. index-linked pension for the rest of her life. Not a bad deal in return for leading CQC nowhere for three years.

Thank God for that, but that is far from that. Cynthia Bower is a symptom not a cause. 

Almost exactly two years ago (26th February 2010) on this website (Guide2Care/Care News Today) I asked “Will she stay or will she go? Cynthia Bower’s position as the £200k p.a. head of the Care Quality Commission is compromised by the independent investigation into Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.”

And, in the summer of 2009, I wrote: Cynthia Bower has “a track record of doing as she’s told, colluding with failure and changing nothing . . .(she) earns more than the prime minister but the frequency and effectiveness of inspections is being cut . . . CQC should be reminded that it serves the public not itself . . . “ (Caring Times July/August 2009)

With Bower’s departure, obvious questions remain unanswered:
Why was she appointed in the first place, when her part in the Mid Staffs disgrace was well known?
How did she survive the repeated failures of CQC?
Who was protecting her while she clung on to her job?
When will there be a complete clear-out of the board and top-management of CQC who are all accountable for the mess it’s in now?

And the questions we in social care must ask ourselves are:
Why did we turn a blind eye while this was happening and do we accept some responsibility for our collusion?
Are we clear about what we want from CQC?

At the Association of Care Managers (ACM) we didn’t collude and we are clear about what we want from CQC.

Time is short for all those who desperately need reliable and incisive regulation of care. The legislation and the structure of CQC are serviceable and can be applied to the job in hand. The last thing we need after the farce we’ve endured is to embark on another round of consultation and deliberation on laws, guidance, regulations and new institutions.

All we need is a clear, plain process of inspection in which inspectors check that care homes are providing good enough care.

The Association of Care Managers calls for a new approach to regulation and inspection of adult social care:
Prioritise the quality of care and the rights and safety of the people who use the services – this is the primary purpose of inspection
Inspect services as often as necessary but at least once a year
Inspectors should aim to prevent bad practice rather than to condemn it after it has occurred and after clients have suffered
Inspectors should be locally based and known – and accessible - to the public and users of the services
Inspection reports should be written for the public
Inspectors should work directly with residents and relatives, staff and managers of individual homes, NOT with the provider groups and organisations
Inspectors should respond to and investigate complaints, and be willing and available to visit the service without notice and at any time
Inspectors should understand how the services work and be willing and able (when appropriate) to help services to improve
People who use services should have a formal and influential voice in the assessment of care.

We believe all of this can be achieved with lower inspection fees. However, it will mean a total reorganisation of the CQC, dismantling the centralised bureaucracy and grandiose management structure, and setting up local Healthwatch inspection teams employing independent inspectors who will be judged by - and paid by - results.

ACM supports the effective inspection of care services, concentrating on the rights, safety and wellbeing of those who use the services.

John Burton, Head of the Association of Care Managers
www.caremanagers.org.uk
February 2012