Care Quality Commission chair Jo Williams resigns

Former Mencap and social services chief steps down after three years at helm, in which leadership of CQC faced repeated criticisms.

Williams said it was time for a new chair to take over

Care Quality Commission chair Jo Williams has announced her resignation, after three years at the helm of the regulator.

Her announcement heralds a wholesale change of leadership at the CQC, coming weeks after David Behan took over as chief executive of the CQC, in place of Cynthia Bower who resigned earlier this year. Williams will remain in post until a successor is appointed.

Williams has been under pressure following a string of critical reviews of the CQC’s leadership by the Department of Health, the House of Commons health select committee and the National Audit Office. However, her request last year that former health secretary Andrew Lansley remove CQC board member Kay Sheldon may have proved decisive.

Williams made the request to Lansley on the day Sheldon gave highly critical evidence about Williams and Bower’s leadership of the CQC to the public inquiry into the monitoring of Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, says Sheldon. In July, Lansley rejected the request, cementing Sheldon’s position on the board.

“It has been a privilege to hold this important role but I now believe it is time to step aside and for a new chair to lead CQC into the next stage,” said Williams. “It has been a demanding and complex role, and there have undoubtedly been challenges as we registered 40,000 providers and brought the entire health and social care system under one set of standards.

“But there is now clear evidence that our regulation is beginning to have an impact on the care that people receive, and it feels as if the organisation is moving into the next stage of its development.”

Williams’ appointment as CQC chair followed a distinguished career in social care. She was chief executive of Mencap from 2003-8, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services from 1999-2000, and director of social services at Cheshire (1997-2002) and Wigan (1992-97)councils. From 2010-11, she served on the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, chaired by Andrew Dilnot.

“While she will be much missed in her position as CQC chair, I hope that adult social care will continue to benefit from her contribution via other forums,” said Dilnot.

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