No excuse for poor care

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission

Last autumn in our State of Care report to Parliament, the Care Quality Commission declared that adult social care is approaching a tipping point as a combination of increased levels of unmet need, variability in quality, providers struggling to improve, increased costs and reduced public funding threaten to take these vital services into a spiral of decline. In Budget week, these concerns remain and today are brought into sharp focus as the owners of Mossley Manor care home in Liverpool are sentenced following CQC’s successful criminal prosecution against them.

The financial pressures facing the sector are real, but this case highlights that there can be no excuse for poor care. No provider worth their salt would cut corners on their legal responsibilities to deliver safe and compassionate care even when money is tight. I will not tolerate incidents of failing care and neither should anyone else. As a society we have to speak up and act on behalf of all those in vulnerable circumstances who must have confidence that their social care services are reliable, treat them with dignity and respect and enable them to live the life they want.

Since introducing our new way of inspecting and rating services in October 2014 we have completed over 30,000 inspections of adult social care services. We know most services meet the Mum Test — care we would be happy for anyone we love to receive. We don’t hear enough about that good care — the commitment and dedication of skilled staff, the innovation and creativity that can transform people’s lives, the heart-warming stories of comfort and support.

But that is not the reality for everyone. Against a backdrop of rising demand and limited resources, we need sustainable solutions to address these unacceptable variations.

CQC has an important part to play and changes in the Care Act mean we are better able to tackle situations of people experiencing unsafe and harmful care by criminally holding providers and individuals to account for serious failures in how services are provided.

When we discovered the appalling care at Mossley Manor care home and the dreadful impact on people living there, we took immediate action to stop it and we also decided to prosecute the owners for these serious failures. Today’s sentencing hearing is our fourth successful prosecution and makes clear that those who expose people to unsafe and harmful care will not be allowed to get off scot free.

But relying on the regulator for good care is not enough. Everyone — government, providers, commissioners and funders, the NHS and other national bodies — we all have a responsibility to listen and respond to people using services, their carers and families and make adult social care the priority it deserves to be.