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CQC report warns of crucial time ahead

In the years leading up to the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, health and social care services have improved, says CQC in its latest State of Care report.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its second annual report to Parliament on the state of healthcare and adult social care in England. CQC will publish later this year a further report which looks at health and social care after registration under Health and Social Care Act 2008.

CQC highlights improvements in the care system but says there are still some areas which have not improved fast enough, and stresses that it is vital that the advances already made become a key component of the newly emerging care system.

The report shows that people have greater control over their care due to more choice in areas such as appointment times, choice of location of care and choice of providers. However, it notes that while more people had access to personalised services through direct payments or personal budgets, there is still a wide variation in progress across the country.

The Commission community mental health survey found that mental health services varied greatly in the extent to which they involve patients in planning their care and reviewing their treatment. CQC's own Commissioners found that many services need to substantially improve their practices; a particular area of concern was that many detained patients who were certified as consenting to treatment, appeared to be refusing to give consent or lacked the capacity to do so.

CQC's chair, Dame Jo Williams, said: "There have been significant improvements in outcomes for people who use services and these services should be congratulated for the work they have done. However, the overall picture is far from perfect and it will be vital for all parts of the health and social care system to continue this upward trend and consolidate the best of what has worked well for people who use services.

"The next few years will be a crucial time for health and social care in England. There will be important changes such as the creation of HealthWatch, Monitor as the economic regulator for health and social care, GP led commissioning consortia, Health and Well Being Boards and the National Health Service Commissioning Board.

"We hope that in the future, service providers and commissioners don't lose sight of the good work that has already been done. The truly good care is care that is centred around the individual and tailored to their needs."

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, responded: “The CQC is right to highlight the improvements which have been made in both health and social care. The advances of recent years came about because government, managers and healthcare staff pulled together to deliver them. There is still a way to go to provide all patients with the quality of care we would like, as shown by the patchy provision described in mental health and independent living for older people.
“Instead of focusing on making these further improvements, we are concerned that the reorganisation of care at a time when £20bn is expected to come out of the health service in England, will mean that we could throw the baby out with the bath water. We know that tens of thousands of NHS posts are at risk in England, and we would urge the government to ensure that patient care is not allowed to suffer.”

Care Quality Commission Report