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CQC "not up to the challenge" of reforms

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been described as a “poorly governed and led” organisation which is not ready for the challenges of the coalition's new health bill, according to a new report by MPs.

Under government reforms, England's NHS regulator is set to take on new responsibilities including the functions of watchdogs, which regulate fertility treatment and human tissue. However, MPs say that the organisation has neglected to inspect the level of care and failed to act on information from whistleblowers.

The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Margeret Hodge said: "We are far from convinced that the CQC is up to the major challenge of registering and assessing 10,000 GP practices this year.

"Registration will now be decided on the basis of information from GPs themselves and there is a risk that the CQC will simply become a postbox. Unless the assessment of GP practices is meaningful and robust the commission cannot be sure that basic standards of quality and safety are being met," she added.

Last month, CQC head Cynthia Bower announced her resignation from her post and is expected to leave her job this coming autumn.  Bower has come under criticism from a public inquiry into why the NHS failed to prevent the deaths of between 400 and 1200 patients at Stafford Hospital due to poor care.  The DoH is also currently reviewing the CQC's handling of the scandal of Winterbourne View, a hospital near Bristol with learning difficulties.

A statement from the Care Quality Commission expressed disappointment that the PAC report, based on last year's NOA report, failed to recognise significant improvements of recent months:

"The unique regulatory system we have built is now nearly two years old, and is delivering increasing benefits for people using health and social care services - as well as those whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act. Our focus, now and always, is to identify and tackle poor care and protect people who use services."

Earlier this year, NiP reported that nurses had criticised the Care Quality Commision for being too slow to respond to complaints.