Contradictions between Moving Forward, last month’s government
consultation document on the future of inspection, and a circular
to local authorities issued days later were outlined by
Kirklees inspector Sue Osborne said the circular on existing
inspection standards described its purpose as ensuring minimum
standards, such as residential home room sizes and staffing ratios,
but Moving Forward emphasised residents’ quality of life.
The consultation paper refered to staff spending time with
users, but the guidance circular costed out the amount of staff
time covered by the inspection fees paid by a home, and said if an
authority exceeds that, it must be paid for from its social
services budget. If inspection is privatised, would the purchasers
want to pay for it, asked Osborne.
She added that Moving Forward asked whether the role of
statutory regulation needed to be redefined or modified in the
light of the contract culture. But the circular said inspectors
should not normally be involved in contract monitoring. The
circular will be cancelled in April 1997, when the inspection
review is decided.
Joan Beck, chief inspector of Doncaster social services, argued
against privatising inspection.
‘Where are relatives going to get information if we deregulate
services? Whether we like it or not, the provision of social care
is a mystery to much of the population…So what hope is there for
people if there’s no-one outside the home to help them?’Beck: What
hope is there?