News reports have emerged of concerns over the effectiveness of the Care Quality Commission, the government watchdog charged with ensuring that health and social care quality is improved nationally.
The Public Accounts Committee announced today that the CQC is “poorly governed and led” and although it saw some minor improvements in some areas of the Commission’s work, the organisation is likely to face a major shake-up.
We have all seen how several cases of poor care in hospitals, care homes and in domiciliary care provided at home have hit the national headlines
At the same time, acccording to the NHS Information Service which has published Personal Social Services Expenditure and Unit Costs – England 2010-11 – Final release, spending on adult social care services by local authorities in England fell by one per cent last year in real terms.
Gross current expenditure in 2010-11 was £17 billion compared to £16.8 billion in 2009-10. Although this a one per cent rise in cash terms, it represents a one per cent fall in real terms and is the first year-on-year real terms fall in a 10 year time series from 2000-01, Older people aged 65 and over, who account for just over half of money spent on such services, saw the biggest absolute expenditure fall between the two years.
Spending on this and most other groups, including physically disabled adults and adults with mental health needs, fell by about two per cent. The only group to see a rise was adults with learning disabilities.
The report also shows overall spending on residential and nursing care also fell between 2009-10 and 2010-11, while overall expenditure increased on day and domiciliary care and Direct Payments to carers and users.
The announcements paint a continuing picture of the “time bomb” which some predict is ticking in respect of social care in England.
As the regulator faces criticism and the real terms costs of care funding by government falls, where does this leave us in managing the expectations of our communities for good care provided well and at a fair cost?
Help from Social Services is often difficult to access in the current cost-cutting climate.
David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s wellbeing board, has said:
"Without fundamental reform and sufficient funding we risk losing the public's trust and confidence in our ability to do the best for people in later life.
"We now need politicians to transcend political point-scoring and wake up to the ticking demographic time bomb this country is facing."
By community care expert Pete Donohue
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