Almost a quarter of NHS services fail to meet the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) essential standards.
The regulator published its analysis following unannounced inspections to over 14,000 health and social care providers in England.
The ‘snapshot’ of performance shows the majority of providers across all sectors were meeting the essential standards of quality and safety - 72% in adult social care, 77% in NHS services and 82% in independent healthcare.
More than one in ten locations (11%) were found to have staffing issues including a lack of support, non-availability of temporary staff and shortages.
The CQC found staffing issues to be a “driving factor” in many instances of non-compliance.
CQC inspectors also found a “worrying number” of examples where the risks associated with medicines are not being properly managed with 17% of all locations failing to meet the essential standard. They claim this is often due to a lack of information given either to those taking the medicines, or those caring for them.
Patient records were also a cause for concern as 15% failed the standard. Many were found to be incomplete, not up-to-date and being kept insecurely. However, the care and welfare for patients came in as the poorest performance across the board.
“The data that CQC holds on performance across health and social care is unique in breadth and scale,” said Jill Finney, Deputy Chief Executive of the CQC. “We asked inspectors – our ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground - if there are other emerging trends that are not yet apparent in terms of numbers, but are causing them concern. This adds another dimension to our assessment of risk and where we need to focus our attention – we hope this intelligence will also be useful to other parts of the health and social care system. “Now that we’ve collected a significant amount of inspection data, we can use this information to probe more deeply into what lies behind risks in the system – this report is the first step in that process. “CQC will use this information to help target our unannounced inspections – but we also want providers to look closely at this report in order to assure themselves that they are taking all steps necessary to protect people from poor care.”
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said the report should serve as a “long overdue wake up” for the government.
“It is highly welcomed and significant that for the first time this type of report shines a light on staffing levels and the effect of inadequate staffing on patient care,” he said.
“Now that the CQC has highlighted these issues, it is time for the Government to stop hiding behind technicalities and make a commitment to ensuring Trusts employ enough nurses and health care assistants to provide patients with the level and quality of care they deserve.”
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