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CQC warning: Inspectors are needed
FAILING health institutions could be missed because the county’s inspection body is “pathetically” staffed, it has been claimed.
Concerns have been raised that unless more inspectors are found, a Stafford or Winterbourne- type scandal could be missed in Oxfordshire.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) only had two Oxfordshire inspectors in November last year and only has five now. Between them, those five inspectors have responsibility for inspecting 447 health institutions across Oxfordshire, ranging from care homes and dentists to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
The CQC says each inspector should monitor up to 50 institutions each, but current staff would have to look at 89.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, left, will question whether Oxfordshire has an adequate number of inspectors at a Westminster debate on Wednesday.
Jacquie Pearce-Gervis, of Oxfordshire-based watchdog Patient Voice, said: “It is a pathetic number of inspectors.
“They have got to cover such a wide role they will not be able to do it properly and will be spread very hin,” added Ms Pearce-Gervis.
“They should be looking at even more homes to avoid a repeat of Stafford or Winterbourne.”
Sub-standard care led to hundreds of deaths at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008, while an investigation in 2011 found patients were repeatedly abused at Winterbourne View Hospital, in Bristol.
Councillors met with CQC staff in November and reported back to the county’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee last month.
Councillor Jim Couchman said: “We did get pretty worried by what we saw as an extremely ill- equiped organisation to deal with the responsibility accrued to it.
“They were experiencing a severe shortage of staff in Oxfordshire and were using temporary staff from as far away as Dorset and Devon.
“When you think of the total budget, there really is room for a proper inspection team.
“The CQC is not a proper inspection team in any way, shape or form.”
He doubted the CQC would be able to meet its requirement of visiting all 447 institutions by April. And he raised concerns that the time spent at each – half a day at smaller sites and five days at the John Radcliffe Hospital – was not enough.
He added: “The John Radcliffe is a huge responsibility in itself. I would have thought they needed an inspector on site more or less all the time.”
The CQC refused to be interviewed by the Oxford Mail. A spokesman said five more inspectors would finish their training by the end of the month. Inspectors from a bank of 70 covering the South East were also being called in to help make up the deficit.
The spokesman added: “CQC is committed to delivering its inspection programme for Oxfordshire for 2012/13 by the end of March, and has resources in place to make this happen.
“Alongside scheduled inspections, the CQC would inspect at any time if people were at immediate risk of harm.”
CQC fact file
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is an independent regulator of all health and adult social care services in England.
It inspects hospitals, care homes, dentists, ambulances and services in people’s own homes to make sure they meet national quality and safety standards.
The CQC began in April 2009, replacing three earlier commissions, and is funded through registration fee income and Government grant-in-aid.
The national standards cover treating people with dignity and respect, making sure food and drink meets people’s needs, making sure that the environment is clean and safe, and managing and staffing services.
When standards are not met, the CQC has the power to issue fines or warnings, stop admissions into a care service, suspend or cancel a care service’s registration – so they cannot operate legally – and prosecute individuals responsible for failings.
Poor care discovered by the CQC
n August 2012: Inspectors found “several omissions” in the records of receipts and administration of drugs at the Brooklands 2 care home, Banbury. In a number of cases, the exact amount administered was not recorded and analysis found medicines may not always have been given as prescribed.
n July 2012: The CQC gave Coxwell Hall Nursing Home, Faringdon, a formal warning notice for failing to investigate minor injuries and bruises. It said the 66 residents were “not protected from the risk of abuse” and “reasonable steps” were not taken to identify and prevent abuse.
n April 2012: The Crown Care Home, in Harwell, was closed after Four Seasons Health Care took over following the collapse of Southern Cross. Southern Cross, which owned 752 care homes, collapsed in 2011.
n July 2011: Inspectors found the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, needed to make improvements to its “essential” nutrition standards.
The report found “fundamental systems” were not in place to record dietary and fluid intake, malnutrition assessments were not carried out and a system to feed people who could not feed themselves was not working effectively.
n May 2011: Brookfield Christian Care Home, Greater Leys, was found to have failed to meet seven out of 11 “essential” standards by inspectors. The CQC found the home did not identify care and support needs, did not have up-to-date care plans and residents were at risk of not having medicines.
n January 2011: The CQC found the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital Trust, which ran the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Horton hospitals, was failing in four categories. Inspectors highlighted a “worrying” lack of staff, cancer patients waiting too long for treatment and bed-blocking by patients well enough to return home.