A leading care home body has expressed its “disappointment” with the role played by the CQC during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a letter to CQC chief executive, Ian Trenholm, Judy Downey, chair of The Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA), (pictured) said there had been a “lack of oversight and scrutiny” of care homes during the crisis.
Judy said the CQC had failed to speak out immediately to refute the “ill-judged view” of Public Health England when it said it was “very unlikely” that anyone in a care home would be infected by coronavirus when the outbreak began.
The R&RA head added that many residents had felt totally abandoned when the CQC suspended its care home inspections.
Judy added: “This lack of oversight and scrutiny has been compounded by emergency legislation allowing for the ‘easement’ of local authorities’ duties under the Care Act, the suspension of complaints investigation by the LGO, and the discharge of C-19 patients from hospital to care homes.”
The R&RA chair added that the CQC’s failure to urgently produce accurate data on care home COVID-19 related deaths had resulted in government being unaware of the true seriousness of the situation in care homes.
Judy added: “In addition, the regulator failed to openly represent the voice and needs of the sector for PPE, testing and tracing, and other much needed resources.”
CQC chief executive, Ian Trenholm, responded: “The nation is facing a major health crisis that has required all those in health and social care, including CQC, to work in very different ways, and we continue to do so. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic our regulatory role and core purpose to keep people safe has been at the heart of all decisions we have made. This role has not changed – to ensure that health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care.
“We made a decision to stop routine inspections during the outbreak in part to protect people by limiting the number of people entering care homes and risking the further spread of coronavirus. But we are continuing to inspect in response to whistleblowing concerns and where we see evidence of risk of harm, deliberate abuse, systematic neglect or a significant breakdown in leadership. We will use our powers, or work with the relevant system partners, to take action against those responsible where we find unsafe or poor care.
“Those who work in social care have never had a more crucial – or a more challenging – role to play. We will continue to support the adult social care sector and its staff as they do everything they can to keep people safe, but it is clear that more support is needed, from every part of the system, as these staff go to extraordinary lengths to protect those in their care.”