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By Debbie le Quesne

Quality of care is suffering, says CQC

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The BBC has announced today that the quality of services provided to people across the health and care sectors in England is beginning to suffer.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) warning comes after it examined reports from more than 13,000 inspections.

“The regulator said staff pressures and the rise in complex cases seen in the ageing population meant everyone from hospitals to care homes was struggling,” the Beeb says, adding overall, one in four services failed at least one of the 16 key standards.

Failure to meet the criteria of dignity and respect, nutrition, care and welfare and the workforce, which covers both numbers and skills of staff, were too common, it appears.

But then there are a couple key paragraphs, which perhaps should have been worthy of more journalistic digging. They say: “The regulator said the pressures on the system meant staff were increasingly unable to focus on the individual needs of people for whom they were caring.

Instead, they were essentially running through to-do lists in the way they approached their responsibilities.”

In the words of the CQC the stresses of the industry hadcreated a culture in places that were struggling where the “unacceptable becomes the norm”.

Clearly they will take enforcement action in places where the most serious failings had been identified and I agree performance should always be good.

But I find myself at odds with the comments from CQC chief executive David Behan, who says despite the pressures there was no excuse for poor performance and “health and care services need to rise to the challenge,”

Please, Mr Beham, come and walk in the shoes of our carers.

I don’t know a single WMCA member who does not want to give excellent care; I don’t know any who wouldn’t want to give better care; but (and it’s a huge but} there’s not the money to do it.”

How loud do we need to be shouting to be heard? Everyone is doing their best in these days of austerity.

The CQY appraisal is the most comprehensive overview view yet of care. It covers every corner of the health and social care sectors with the exception of GP practices.

The 13,000 inspections cover a third of the health and care sectors.

Data has been assembled from NHS services, such as hospitals and mental health services, care homes, nursing homes, home help, dentistry and the independent sector, which includes private hospitals and charity-run services.

The BBC report adds: “Broken down by sectors, the report showed 22 per cent of the NHS had failed on at least one standard, 19 per cent of the independent healthcare, 28 per cent of social care and 12 per cent of dentistry.

It is the first year the CQC has had such comprehensive data and so a comparison with 2010-11 is not possible. But CQC said the picture emerging was one where providers of care were finding it more difficult. Too true!

The report is right on the heels of the Patients Association warning about standards of care, highlighting 13 cases of what it says is “appalling” care.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said the findings were “scandalous”, adding patients were receiving substandard care across the country every day.

And Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the CQC warning echoed what the union’s members had been saying for a long time.

“We hope that this report acts as a warning that cutting staff at a time when the country’s health care needs are becoming more complex is a recipe for disaster.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt certainly seems to have his work cut out, doesn’t he?

He wants to do much more to raise standards and he says there is no hiding place “for those providing poor care or sub-standard practice.”

There are great statements, which everyone would expect a Health Secretary to say. But the reality remains: There is an inextricable link between care excellence and funding.

On a happier note, the weekend is almost here. Have a good one!

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