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Is the CQC Fit for Purpose in Learning Disability Services?
In our regular guest opinion piece from My Life My Choice, they ask if the CQC is Fit for Purpose. Recently there has been a lot of criticism of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for failing to make sure care was good enough for people with learning disabilities and autism.
Here is what we think about it…
The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.
This means that they inspect and control health and social care services.
We think this should mean they go into services to see if there are any problems, and force services to improve if there are any problems.
If a service is very bad it should be shut down and the patients moved to somewhere they will get really good care.
However, it seems that the CQC does not always do this well enough.
In May 2019, The BBC Panorama programme showed horrible abuse at the hospital Whorlton Hall, which had been inspected by the CQC not long before.
When the CQC inspected Whorlton Hall in 2018, they did not notice the abuse.
When they inspected, they did notice that some staff were not being trained or supervised properly, but they only “told them to address these issues”.
As well as this, in 2015 the CQC got an inspection report on Whorlton Hall that said that staff were bullying patients, and patients were being secluded incorrectly.
The CQC did not publish this report and did not act on it.
We think this is not good enough. They knew there was a problem but did not do anything and hid the evidence.
After the abuse at Whorlton Hall was revealed by Panorama, the CQC released a statement. It said:
“As soon as the BBC told us that they had evidence of abuse we alerted the police and they are now investigating.”
It then said: “It is clear now that we missed what was really going on at Whorlton Hall, and we are sorry”
This is not good enough!
The CQC should not have to rely on the BBC to find abuse for them, and sorry does not undo the hurt that people suffered.
Our Champion Ben said, “We shouldn’t have to rely on the BBC, there should be a thorough investigation by the health service”
This is not the first time the CQC has been criticised: in 2011 the CQC was criticised when Panorama revealed abuse at Winterbourne View, and in 2013 The British Medical Association (BMA) said the CQC was “not fit for purpose”.
There are also other reasons that the CQC is not good for people with learning disabilities:
The CQC reports about services are not in easy read.
This means that lots of people with learning disabilities will not be able to learn about the services that affect them and cannot contribute to the debate.
As well as this, in the recent CQC report on seclusion and restraint of people with learning disabilities, the recommendations were very weak despite the shocking findings of the report.
They should recommend more than just ‘consider’ the human rights of people with learning disabilities.
They need to recommend real change and then act to make it!
Overall, we think the CQC is not fit for purpose on learning disability services.
They have failed to protect people too many times and we need a new inspections service that will actually look after people.
Although we do not know exactly what this would look like, it needs to include more people with learning disabilities as experts by experience.
As our champion, Dawn, always says “nothing about us without us!”
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