The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) which represents leading not for profit disability providers; has today responded to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) consultation on its future strategy.
The group finds that CQC’s consultation on its 2016/21 strategy does little to strengthen sector confidence in the regulator’s commitment to efficiency. Nor does the consultation offer assurance that it will not shift further costs in running the organisation on to providers.
“Good” services already subsidise the more frequent inspection of “inadequate” services through a flawed approach to CQC fees. Now CQC is proposing to focus its inspection activity even more closely on services which pose the greatest risk. An inevitable consequence is that it would take “good” services longer to reach an “outstanding” rating, regardless of their investment in improving quality, simply because they would be inspected less frequently.
CQC is also proposing to develop “a single shared view of quality”. This has potential to reduce the duplication of effort involved in multiple inspections by different oversight bodies. It would also enable providers to align their internal monitoring processes with CQC’s inspection framework. However, the sub-text to this proposal is that CQC will be expecting providers to undertake more detailed self-reporting at their own expense. This further risks taking resources away from frontline delivery.
A third proposal involves developing methods to assess the quality of health and social care for populations and across local areas. This is an interesting concept and could throw a light on the varying levels of effectiveness of commissioning practices. However, this activity does not relate to the regulation and inspection of individual services and therefore should not be funded through the fees paid by provider organisations.
VODG chief executive Professor Rhidian Hughes said:
“CQC’s ambitions need to be firmly grounded in the economic realities of the sector. Year on year CQC has increased its charges to providers with further hikes expected in 2016/17. In addition the Department of Health has now decided to grant the regulator greater freedoms in setting its fees from 1 April this year. Providers need a fair deal and CQC must be challenged to become a lean, efficient and effective regulator”.
He goes on to say:
“The regulation and inspection of services is an activity which is primarily driven by public interest. Providers have a part in meeting these costs, but not exclusively. The vast majority of services provided by our members are for people with life long disabilities who are supported by the state. Additional costs and burdens risk detracting from frontline care”.