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Quarter of health and social care providers 'failing'

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently released a report into the failures of health and social care providers across England. The report found that more than one in four are failing to meet essential standards of quality and safety.

The findings are based on inspections of 14,000 sites including hospitals, care homes and dental practices. 

Maternity care as a whole was flagged up as units struggle to keep pace with rising birth rates.

Those service providers which have received criticism from the CQC have received advice and guidance from the body, with the aim of drawing up an action plan to improve standards and performance. In 130 cases, services were deemed to be so poor that restrictions have been imposed on the responsible providers, including a nursing home which is no longer allowed to admit new residents until drastic improvements are made. In a rare move, some of the worst providers have now been shut down. In total, the CQC said that 27% of the sites inspected needed to improve standards.

Medicine management received a large amount of criticism, with claims that the “safe management of medicines is being compromised, often by a lack of information given either to those taking the medicines, or those caring for them.”

The report also discovered that 1 in 10 of the providers inspected failed to meet appropriate staffing levels and more than 15% had poor record-keeping, including incompleteness and failures to keep records confidential.

CQC deputy chief executive Jill Finney said the report provided a ‘snapshot’ of performance, and her department would now probe more deeply into what was causing the alarming problems throughout both public and private sector care providers. Finney also confirmed that similar reports will be prepared on a quarterly basis in the future.

When commenting on the findings of the report, Health Minister Simon Burns said “there is no excuse for delivering anything but the best care.” Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, commented that “many of these areas, in particular on matters like staffing, are heard on our helpline day after day and clearly need to be addressed not just by the trusts locally, but also by the Department of Health and the Government on a national level.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing deemed the report “shocking” and said the results provided a “long overdue wake up call” and added that “those locations in question must be brought up to standard as a matter of urgency.”

It remains to be seen exactly what measures are put in place to improve care and enhance the overall patient experience. The CQC are expected to report further on the matters raised in this report later in the year.

By clinical negligence specialist, Paul Burrows