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The Claptrap and Quackery Commission

If it sounds like claptrap and it looks like quackery . . . yes . . . it’s CQC.

The Claptrap and Quackery Commission (CQC) are misleading the public by publishing reports intended to give the impression that care homes are regularly inspected. Currently, care homes rarely receive a visit from CQC. The Commission visit a home only when the risk rating is driven up by constant complaints.

But why would a relative or resident complain to CQC? The Commission doesn’t investigate complaints. When something is going wrong in a home, CQC is last to know.

A recently publicised report on a home showed that it was not complying with standards of quality and safety in several important areas. In spite of being licensed by the regulator in October last year, the CQC website still says (to the prospective resident) that this home “is registered and therefore licensed to provide . . . or is in the final stages of being registered”. Very helpful. Clear as mud.

It goes on to tell the prospective resident that this home was rated as “good” at its last inspection. So, in spite of the doubt about whether it’s licensed to provide care, at least we know that it’s “good”. It takes a knowledgeable reader to discover that this “good” rating was the verdict of an inspection that took place three-and-a-half years ago.

CQC claim that this particular visit took place as “part of our routine schedule of planned reviews”. So, should we take it as routine that homes should expect their next “review” between the third and fourth year since their last one?

Unfortunately for the poor person trying to find a care home, the Claptrap and Quackery Commission keep shifting the goal posts and it’s very difficult to find any consistent message about any home or about how they intend to go about “regulating” them.

If we go back six months to an interview with Jo Williams (Chair of CQC) on You and Yours (BBC Radio 4), she claims that the Commission will “improve the star system to tell a fuller picture, and if a service “falls below standard, we will take away the rating.” And when she was claiming that CQC would “add value to the system”, what on earth was she talking about? Perhaps she was she referring to the increase in fees paid by providers to CQC in return for . . . er . . . “adding value”?

She failed to make it clear that such a value adding exercise would mean that a self-funding resident in a 61-place care home will now pay £182 a year to fund more claptrap and quackery, and a grossly excessive salary and pension for, among others, a chief executive who was the most senior manager leading the tragic farce that resulted in the complete collapse of care standards at Mid Staffs hospital. And this person is meant to be in charge of checking standards in care homes? It is barely believable.

Six months ago Dame Jo told the listeners that there were 800 inspectors to 24,000 providers. More recently on BBC television she claimed that the regulator had “the capacity” to make 40,000 inspections a year. Eh? Is this ambitious claptrap along the lines of Mid Staffs Trust gaining “Foundation Trust” status on the basis of similarly creative accountancy, lies and cover-ups about the quality and safety of care at the hospital?

The Claptrap and Quackery Commission could be passed off as just another expensive but useless bureaucracy, but the effects on care are devastating. Homes are not being inspected properly and residents of homes are being let down by the very organisation that they should be able to trust. It is not only the few poor care homes that are left alone until there is sufficient outcry to force a “site visit”; what about all the good homes that CQC neglect, or have wrongly condemned, or are diverted from the important job of care by the Commission’s preposterous and ignorant demands, and robbed by their completely unjustified hike in fees?

John Burton
The Association of Care Managers.
April 2011.