Concerns from adult social care staff raised with the CQC have increased by 55% during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a new report, the CQC said it received 2,612 calls from adult social care staff raising concerns between 2 March and 31 May, compared with 1,685 in the same period of 2019.
A quarter of calls (26%) related to a lack of PPE and other infection control products, with 32% relating to how infection control or social distancing was being practiced and 4% concerning quality of care being impacted by COVID-19.
The CQC said 11 of the 17 physical inspections it had carried out since 17 March had been the result of concerns raised by staff or members of the public. Routine inspections of care homes were suspended on 16 March. The regulator also reported an increase in calls about or from people detained under the Mental Health Act.
Kate Terroni, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, (pictured) said: “It’s in everyone’s interests that staff are able to speak up freely and are not prevented from raising their concerns about quality and safety – and all providers have a responsibility to support their staff to share concerns safely without fear of reprisal.
“Staff have been going to extraordinary lengths to deliver good, safe care during this global crisis – if they are experiencing barriers to the delivery of that care, we want to hear from them and we are encouraged that so many staff have been brave enough to raise concerns with us.”
The CQC also noted a high number of trade union enquiries from social care members about how they can raise concerns about the quality and safety of care.
A GMB spokesperson told CHP: “The social care workforce are highly skilled and have been able to react to this crisis because of their skills and experience, yet as has been recorded the situation with PPE, infection control and the working conditions that staff have faced have often led to serious concerns. The GMB will always support our members if they wish to raise any concerns to the CQC and will encourage them to contact the helpline number should they feel the need to do so.”
UNISON senior national officer Gavin Edwards said: “Safety concerns around PPE and infection control have been top of the list of issues raised by care staff throughout the pandemic.
“A core part of the problem in the sector is that key decision makers haven’t listened to the voices of those providing the care.
“In every element of the response to this crisis, we must enable care workers to speak up. They have first-hand experience of the problems and the insights that’ll help to fix them.”
Judy Downey, chair of The Relatives & Residents Association, added: “It’s great to see CQC producing this report but there seems to be a gap where the impact on residents’ wellbeing needs to be. We all know about the continuing shambles of PPE and the shameful second class status of the care sector in both the consideration and allocation of resources.”
Judy called on the CQC to follow the Scottish Care Inspectorate’s lead by publishing a report on the “sad and sometimes tragic” impact the crisis had on residents.