Care sector chiefs have reacted angrily to the Care Quality Commission’s decision to scrap star ratings in October before deciding on a new system for assessing the quality of providers.
Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of care and housing provider Anchor, said it was “madness”. She added: “If a similar step had been announced for school inspections, there would be public outrage. Older people and their families should have no less information about the quality of care they can expect.”
Martin Green, chief executive of the English Community Care Association, said there had been a lack of consultation before the decision was taken to ditch the ratings.
He said the CQC’s decision “gives us grave concern about its commitment to quality and its understanding and engagement with the social care sector”.
Under the ratings, providers are awarded between zero (poor) and three (excellent) stars.
CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said star ratings in their present form were not compatible with the new registration regime for care providers, which will come fully into force in October.
The CQC plans to lay out options for the future of quality ratings in September before coming to a decision on their future by next April.
Mike Parsons, chief executive of Barchester Healthcare, one of the largest residential providers, said: “While we fully support the development of a more sophisticated ratings scheme, we are concerned that, until this new ratings tool is in place, there is no compunction on care home owners to aspire to higher quality.”
Although a new quality ratings system is likely to be implemented this is not certain, nor is it guaranteed that the CQC would be the body to award them.
But Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said it would be “bizarre” if the CQC ceased to award quality ratings altogether given “what many people see as the value that they bring” in driving up care quality.
From October, the CQC will continue to inspect services under the new registration system, with findings published on its website. For an interim period, providers’ star ratings from October will be published on the CQC website too.
The CQC has promised to work with Adass to provide councils with information about the quality of services to inform commissioning decisions.