The Care Quality Commission has angered part time inspectors who have been told their pay is being cut.
The inspection body launched an initiative in 2013 that aimed to recruit what they call Experts by Experience (EBEs); a cohort of people with firsthand experience of using care services who are then trained to assist with inspections.
There are currently around 500 EBEs, according to the CQC website, who work alongside full time inspectors.
During inspections they spend time talking to people who use the service and observing the environment. They have first-hand experience of receiving care so they know which questions to ask to get as much information from the visit as possible, CQC says.
In December last year, the CQC launched an expansion drive to attract new recruits.
Until then, EBEs were paid £17 per hour on a zero hours contract. One of them, Graham Curtis, has been an EBE since February 2012. He wrote to the Guardian after being told that a new agency, Remploy, would be taking over the contracts of employment for EBEs and were going to pay just £8.25 per hour (£9.40 in London).
This was rejected by existing EBEs, forcing Remploy had to rethink and came back with an improved offer of £15 per hour for six months then £12.50 for the next six months, Curtis writes.
Remploy issued a statement that explains its pay decision. “Feedback received from existing experts and the organisations that they are currently engaged with has been invaluable in helping us to better understand the impact of the reduction in hourly rates by the new contractors for transferring experts,” Remploy said in a letter published on its website.
“A priority for Remploy and CQC, as we have finalised the contract detail, has been to mitigate the immediate impact of the hourly rate changes for existing experts. In particular we have sought to provide a degree of income protection as we transfer to the new arrangements. We are pleased to inform you that we have now agreed with CQC a phased approach to arrangements for existing Experts.
“Experts, who wish to transfer from their current contractor and continue with the programme, will be paid at an hourly rate of £15 for the first six months of the contract – commencing February 1st 2016. The hourly rate will then drop to £12.50 per hour for at least the next 6 months, we have not yet finalised the new long term pay rates for experts. This payment applies to any existing expert transferring to any of our partner organisations. Existing experts do not have to have had experience of services within the past five years,” Remploy explains.
Mr Curtis is not impress. “My biggest criticism is reserved for the CQC, which despite protesting that it values the EBE role has allowed this to happen. It has had two years to get this right and it has turned into a car crash, although, at a recent board meeting it was described as a very successful tender exercise. In whose world?” he concludes in his piece for the Guardian.