The Care Quality Commission board will include people with experience in social care and compulsory mental health services, after the government bowed to concerns that the new joint regulator would be health-dominated.
A government amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, passed last week, will ensure that the board – consisting of a chair and several members appointed by the health secretary – will include people with knowledge and experience of its full remit.
The commission, which the bill will create, will take over the functions of the Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection and Mental Health Act Commission next April.
Concerns have been raised repeatedly, including by CSCI and MHAC (www.communitycare.co.uk/106915), that the new commission’s health inspection function would marginalise its role in regulating social care and monitoring the welfare of detained mental health patients.
The government also revealed it would give the local government ombudsman responsibility for investigating complaints by people who fund their own adult care services, when these have not been resolved by providers.
Although people whose care is funded by councils have access to the statutory social services complaints procedure, self-funders currently do not. This has led charities including Age Concern to claim self-funders are left open to abuse, poor care or arbitrary eviction from care homes.
Tony Redmond, one of three local government ombudsmen, said: “We have significant experience in handling complaints relating to social care in the public sector. A good deal of that is transferable in terms of skills and comptence to the private sector.”
Government spokesperson Baroness Thornton told the House of Lords the responsibility would pass to the ombudsman at “the next available legislative opportunity”.
The government did not include any social care bills in its draft legislative programme for 2008-9, but the provision could be included in the planned National Health Service Reform Bill.