An MPs report on the CQC has said it needs to do more to spot the early signs of poor care.
The Committee of Public Accounts report also raised concerns over the CQC’s capacity to continue to effectively monitor services should quality levels decline.
The report said: “The Commission has more work to do to ensure it has the wide range of intelligence it needs to identify early warning signs of poor care.”
While highlighting that around in five re-inspections are in response to concerns, the report noted the CQC’s relationships with local healthwatch organisations was “variable” and there had been a recent decline in the number of whistleblowers.
The Committee calls on the CQC to set out how it intends to strengthen local relationships and the information it collects.
The MPs also highlighted concerns over the regulator’s staffing levels should its assumptions over care quality prove incorrect. Staffing levels are being cut by the CQC as part of its cost reduction strategy. The report calls on the CQC to provide an update on its planned cost reduction measures and its ability to meet its inspection programme.
Further areas of improvement noted by the Committee, included faster publication of hospital reports and improvement of digital monitoring systems.
Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: “We acknowledge that there is more to be done and staff are actively working to deliver on the key recommendations, such as decreasing the time taken to publish our hospital inspection reports and the improvement of our digital monitoring systems.
“In accepting the Committee’s recommendations we do not underestimate the task at hand. But with the commitment of our staff, I am confident that CQC will continue to improve and serve the public well.”
Care England CEO Professor Martin Green added: “The report, although encouraging, does demonstrate the need for better use of intelligence as an early warning system of provider quality failure, especially working with local Health Watch and CCGs.
“In conjunction with this it is important that CQC makes sure that digital and information collection is in place and functioning smoothly.”