Following an opinion piece published in The Guardian, commenting on CQC's inspection approach, our Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said:
"I am concerned at the level of inaccuracy in the article first published on Monday 28 September: How will care home inspections get any better with this weedy new system?
"I welcome debate and constructive criticism: we can and will improve our approach. But Ms Hanson makes a number of sweeping statements regarding CQC's adult social care inspection regime which are unbalanced, unfounded, and frankly, plain wrong.
"This Thursday 1 October marks a year since we formally launched a brand new regulatory system for monitoring, inspecting and rating all adult social care services across England. This addressed many of the problems previously identified that our inspections were lacking rigour and were insufficiently thorough.
"We now have a robust system that has been developed jointly and openly with the adult social care sector, including people who use services and providers. It is firmly focussed on putting people who use services, their families and carers at the centre of our work.
"Like any good employer, we operate a rigorous recruitment process to ensure we have the right staff working with us. It is a requirement for anyone expressing an interest in becoming an inspector to be able to evidence appropriate knowledge, skills and background in health and social care. Once appointed, inspectors undertake a comprehensive induction, have ongoing learning and development opportunities and are supported by a management system that assures the quality of their work.
"Specialist teams, including people who use services, their carers or relatives known as Experts by Experience – together with Specialist Advisors – now support our inspection work to really get under the skin of adult social care services better than ever before.
"We do not ignore adult social care inspections from one year to the next. Information provided by people using services, their families and carers as well as staff who raise concerns with us all help determine when we inspect.
"Our job is to assess the quality of care by asking whether services are safe, caring, effective, responsive to people's needs and well-led. Our inspection teams follow specific and clearly defined prompts set out in our provider handbooks published on our website called Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs) to gather inspection evidence.
"We assess a minimum of 16 mandatory KLOEs during a full comprehensive care home inspection – not two as Ms Hanson wrongly suggests in her article.
"We have made a commitment to rate all adult social care services by September 2016 as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate so that the public can be clear about the quality of care provided. To date 7% services have been rated as Inadequate, 34% Require Improvement, 58% Good and 1% Outstanding. Our enforcement action as a proportion of inspections undertaken has nearly doubled, demonstrating that we will, and do, take action to tackle poor care when we find it.
"We encourage services to improve and have already seen services move from an Inadequate to a Good rating during the last year.
"There will always be improvements that we can make, but I am confident that CQC has made significant progress to becoming the strong regulator the adult social care sector needs and the public have every right to expect."