In her latest exclusive column for CHP, Kate Terroni, CQC Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, addresses concerns raised by the recent discovery of duplicate material in inspection reports.
This month I want to address an issue that has led to a few questions from CHP readers.
Many of you will have seen the news reports concerning duplicate material found by our inspectors in a number of our inspection reports.
We recognise that this situation has caused uncertainty and anxiety for the people affected and we deeply regret this. We are all in this line of work to ensure that people get good quality health and social care. It is essential that the public and providers can have confidence in our reports and judgements, so I welcome this opportunity to provide you with assurances about how we work and the actions we take if the quality of our findings are not up to standard.
One of the things we’ve learned through this is that we could do more to make people aware of the robust processes and procedures we have in place to ensure our inspection reports are accurate. It was through these quality assurance processes that we were able to identify the issue in the first place. Our routine peer review checks were able to identify duplicate quotes attributed to both our specialist advisors and experts by experience.
Once we became aware of this issue we investigated and learnt the source of the repeated material were two experts by experience and one specialist advisor. All the individuals concerned were immediately removed from inspection activity and will not be working for us again. I also want to be very clear that this was not due to CQC inspectors as some publications initially incorrectly reported.
We use experts by experience and specialist advisors to make sure we are giving a voice to people who have direct experience of using or caring for someone who uses health and social care services or who has direct experience of working in that sector. As one inspector commented to me recently “experts by experience’s contribution helps to corroborate evidence and allows me to make a robust judgement”. While their input provides valuable insight and helps our inspection teams in carrying out their assessments, it is the inspectors who have the overall responsibility for the rating and report.
In the majority of reports where we found duplicate material, we were confident that the material did not affect the rating. These reports were taken down from our website, the duplication removed and the reports republished.
However, for some inspections, once the relevant material was removed, we were not satisfied that we had enough evidence to inform our rating. Whilst I fully understand the frustrations of the providers and services concerned, it is our responsibility to ensure we have inspected and reported accurately. We have committed to carrying out re-inspections of all these services by 31 March and are currently ahead of schedule in completing this. Whilst this is happening the current reports have been removed from our website and we have made clear to the public and providers the action we are taking.
It is of course very disappointing to have had this happen, not only for the services affected, but for the vast majority of our experts by experience and specialist advisors, who do excellent work. I think the work that experts by experience do to bring the voices of people who use services into our inspections is very important and I am absolutely committed to making sure this remains the case. We have recently re-procured our experts by experience contract and have strengthened our quality assurance requirements in this new contract. We will also be undertaking a thorough lessons learned exercise to identify how we can reduce the risks of this happening again.
Finally, let me thank all of you who have been in touch on this subject. The reason I do this column is so that I can speak with you all directly, not just to tell you the latest from the CQC but to address the issues that are important to you. Please continue to send in your questions to the editor at email@example.com, I will do my very best to answer them.