More paper tiger than watchdog

“We spend so much time carrying out routine inspection visits
that we do not have enough time to follow up the complaints and
concerns that people raise,” the Commission for Social Care
Inspection (CSCI) has claimed.

It is almost too painful to contemplate the horrific
implications of this for service users. It is as if the police were
to say they have put complaints of rape and robbery on the
back-burner and prioritised checking tyres.

Indeed, Dame Denise Platt, chair of the CSCI, has described
aspects of the current inspection system as “cobblers”. But CSCI
commissioners are ill-suited to reform the failed inspection
regime. Having been in post for well over a year now, they are the
very people who are largely responsible for allowing the regime to
continue, putting at risk the very service users they are meant to

Dedicated CSCI inspectors on the ground have been badly let down
by commissioners. To want to be an inspector and drum abusers out
of care is a noble ambition. But inspectors have largely been
employed churning out subjective reports which, by the admission of
the former National Care Standards Commission, contain bogus
statistics, and are of little value to anyone.

One has to wonder why no inspector has publicly exposed such a
flawed regime. After all, the whole ethos of the CSCI should be to
encourage whistle-blowing. It seems that inspectors are just too
frightened of their own employer.

For the time being at least, the CSCI looks set to continue
publishing subjective reports based on subjective outcomes. Yet a
subjective system can portray good providers as bad, threatening
them with closure, and bad providers as good, putting service users
at risk.

It would be better if no inspection reports were published other
than when a serious problem has been identified. This would allow
the CSCI to spend more resources policing and improving care rather
than creating blizzards of paper. Then, finally, the priority could
be getting rid of those providers who are a risk to service

Chris Brown is a CSCI registered service

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