Plans for a single inspectorate for social
services have been greeted with a mixture of shock, concern and
new Commission for Social Care Inspection will merge the Social
Services Inspectorate (SSI) with the care home functions of the
National Care Standards Commission (NCSC).
announcement came just three weeks after the National Care
Standards Commission took over responsibility for the registration
and inspection of social care.
secretary Alan Milburn said the current arrangements were causing
“fragmentation and confusion”.
said the new body would have a key role in driving up standards and
strengthening accountability between social services and the
Commission for Social Care Inspection is expected to be operational
within two years. The new body’s commissioners will be chosen by an
independent public appointments commission.
Parker, chairperson of the NCSC, said: “Until the new bodies are
established we will continue to regulate all of the services that
fall under our remit and work with service providers to improve
NCSC does not expect that users will experience significant
changes, although it admits that the plans are at too early a stage
to make accurate predictions.
standards-based approach will remain and at this stage we do not
expect them to change,” said a NCSC spokesperson.
cycle of registration and inspection for children’s homes and care
homes will continue as planned. It could be that the only
differences will be a change of address and a different style on
Sheila Scott, chief executive of the National Care Homes
Association, said the news would be traumatic for owners who have
had a stressful year preparing for the NCSC.
we need is a period of stability. Everybody needs to be convinced
that the system is going to work well so the last thing we need is
this confusion,” said Scott.
has this decision been made now when the NCSC has only been in
existence for 18 days. All these changes should have been thought
out two years ago.”
Michael Leadbetter, president of
the Association of Directors of Social Services, said: “It makes
sense to move the two sets of inspectors together and we have been
lobbying hard for a rationalisation of the inspection
is particular support among those departments which feel the SSI
will be seen to be more independent because it will be at greater
distance from government influence.
really hard part will be combining the different cultures of the
NCSC, which is already trying to merge the cultures of 230 local
authority inspectorates, with those of the SSI,” added
will be a legal requirement for the Commission for Social Care
Inspection to co-operate with the proposed Commission for
Healthcare Audit and Inspection.
Department of Health said it would keep reviewing the possibility
of a single commission to cover both social and health services. It
has currently ruled out the option because it can not justify its
extended scope and the organisational upheaval required.
Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection will merge the
private and voluntary healthcare functions of the NCSC with the
Commission for Health Improvement and Audit Commission’s health
value for money work.
Role of the proposed merged body:
– Inspect all social care organisations to
ensure they meet national standards and produce reports of
– Register services.
– Inspect local authority social services
– Validate all performance assessment
statistics on social care.
– Publish star ratings for social services
departments and recommend special measures when necessary.
– Publish annual report to parliament on
progress on social care and analysis of the use of resources.