Editorial Comment: Merger upsets inspectors

The new year has not brought new priorities. Gordon Brown has lost no time in saying how committed the government is to modernising the NHS. He’s desperate for us to concentrate on political progress not party donations.

This sets the Healthcare Commission a big challenge – particularly on reducing hospital-acquired infection.

The health watchdog cannot afford to let its imminent merger with the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission get in the way. But, where does that leave the monitoring of standards in adult social care and mental health? Of secondary importance, warns the chair of MHAC.

He’s concerned that safeguards could slip at a time when inspections are revealing examples of abuse, restraint and over occupancy on mental health wards. He wants the Health and Social Care Bill, which should introduce the new commission in April 2009, to include a minimum programme of visits.

This follows a recent CSCI report showing that 75% of older people in residential care have, or know someone who has, been restrained.

While legitimate concerns are often expressed on the bureaucracy surrounding inspection, the new inspectorate will have a critical role to play in improving services.

But, it will only happen, if health and social care have an equal footing within the Care Quality Commission both structurally and when it comes to resources.

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Watchdog plan endangers mental health safeguards

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Mike Broad



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