Pictured: Ian Trenholm, chief executive, CQC

The Care Quality Commission has published it annual State of Care report which examines trends, shares examples of good and outstanding care, and highlights where care needs to improve.

This year’s report starts by considering the quality of care prior to Covid-19 before subsequently examining the impact of the pandemic and the response of the system. 

It notes that 80% of adult social care services were rated as good and 5% as outstanding (in 2019 the figures were 80% and 4% respectively). However, among mental health services the level of poor care in inpatient wards for people with a learning disability and/or autistic people continued to rise, Also, the overall proportion of services rated as inadequate rose from 4% to 13%, emphasising the need to deliver on the Transforming Care target to reduce the total number of patients with a learning disability and/or autism within inpatient units by 35%.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, the representative body for independent providers of adult social care, said: “Although this year’s State of Care report makes a raft of important recommendations including a new deal for the adult social care workforce, it is disappointing to note that the report is predominantly a narrative of events which spanned the Covid-19 pandemic, as opposed to a critical reflection of what must change. This is underscored by the lack of internal reflection from CQC as to its handling of the crisis.” 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the interdependence of the health and social care system and the organisations that operate across the system. The regulator must now reflect upon its own role and look to facilitate the delivery of safe, quality and sustainable Covid-19-proof care in the future.”

Dawn Hodgkins, director of regulation at the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, added: “We welcome the CQC’s State of Care report which shows that almost 90% of independent acute services are rated good or outstanding with clear improvement over the last year in all of the CQC’s key domains – demonstrating the sector’s commitment to providing the best possible patient care.

“As the CQC rightly highlights, it’s vital that both Covid and non-Covid patients are able to access the care they need. Patients should be absolutely reassured that the independent health sector is open for business, and that if you’re concerned about your health, you shouldn’t hesitate in coming forward and getting the care you need.”

The King’s Fund, the charity working to improve health and care in England, also issued a statement. Its chief executive Richard Murray said: “The most concerning aspect of this new report is that few of its findings come as a surprise. Health inequalities were already widening before the pandemic and for several years this report has provided an annual warning to governments about the crisis in adult social care. Yet still we wait for the government to act on the long-standing promises of reform.

“It is time for a reset in public policy to tackle deeply entrenched health inequalities. As health and care staff brace for the second wave of Covid-19, ministers and national leaders must initiate a discussion about the fundamental changes that will create a healthier and fairer society beyond the pandemic. This is essential if the government is to deliver on its promise to ‘level up’ between rich and poor areas.

“The pandemic has increased the urgency with which long-overlooked challenges need to be addressed. Ahead of the oft-promised reform of social care funding, there is an immediate need for short-term funding to stabilise the beleaguered sector and support providers to implement adequate infection control.

“Throughout the pandemic, health and care staff have demonstrated remarkable dedication, ingenuity and resilience. To ensure their continued commitment and safeguard the quality of future services, it is essential that the government uses the spending review to provide the multi-year funding needed to meet its manifesto commitments to boost staff numbers.”

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, the national body representing organisations in the voluntary sector that work alongside disabled people, added its reaction to the report. Its chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said: “We welcome CQC’s continued spotlight on the most pressing issues within the sector as well as its unique perspective, which gives us a broad view across health and social care at a time of particular concern.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the need for reform, investment, and sensible workforce planning for the social care sector. It has also highlighted the government’s lack of recognition for working age adult social care services and the inequities that exist for many people with protected characteristics – as CQC rightly reports, the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges already faced by the UK’s 14.1 million disabled people and the social care sector that supports them.

“Covid-19 has also shone a spotlight on the significant role voluntary sector disability organisations play in supporting people and their families and of the local community services that play such an important role in people’s lives.

“While it is reassuring that CQC’s State of Care report had identified and acknowledged these issues, we can only hope that the government finally takes notice and addresses these issues as a matter of urgency.”

The Care Provider Alliance brings together the 10 main national associations which represent independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England. The chair of the organisation Kathy Roberts said: “Care providers are to be congratulated for their remarkable achievements: 85% have achieved a good or outstanding CQC rating despite the huge pressures they have faced, but they cannot be taken for granted.

“Covid-19 has revealed, more starkly than ever, the lack of parity in the support given to the NHS and that given to social care. Paradoxically it has also highlighted the absolute inter-dependence of the two systems. CQC’s report provides clear evidence and recommendations for improvement.

“Through the Care Provider Alliance’s work with care services, the NHS, central and local government, we have seen how working together as equal partners – sharing expertise and experience – makes a real difference. As the alliance of the main trade associations working across the adult social care sector, the CPA is calling for: a long-term funding and support solution to ensure that the social care market is sustainable;             an equal place for care providers at local and national planning and decision-making, alongside our health and local authority colleagues; and recognition and reward for our highly-skilled care workforce.

“In return, the CPA and our members will continue to work constructively with our colleagues across government and social care national agencies. We strongly welcome CQC’s rigorous and valuable report and recommendations.”

Date published: October 16, 2020

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