Service users who advise CQC face 50 per cent pay cut

Experts by experience say move to cut their hourly rate undermines regulator's claims to value service user input

Picture: Ben Wyeth/Rex
Picture: Ben Wyeth/Rex

Service users and family carers whose expertise is used by the Care Quality Commission on inspections of care homes and hospitals face their pay being halved.

Two of three regional contracts to recruit people to the CQC’s Experts by Experience programme have been awarded to Remploy. The company plans to pay the experts £8.25 per hour (or £9.40 in London), down from the current hourly rate of £17.

The changes, first revealed by Disability News Service, are due to take effect on 1 February.

The CQC said around 300 experts by experience, which include people with physical or learning disabilities, mental health conditions and carers, currently take part in inspections each month. The regulator plans to expand the programme to use more than 1,000 experts some months, insisting their input is “vital”.

Anger over move

Experts by experience say that claim is undermined by the CQC agreeing contracts that will see their pay for inspections slashed.

One told Community Care: “People are furious because firstly the communication has been really poor around this. Secondly, CQC has always said how important experts are to their inspections. Now it feels we’re not important enough to pay us decent money.

“The Experts by Experience programme absolutely works. I really back it but there has to be some equity between the value CQC is saying this programme has to them and what is being proposed for people here. It’s just the principle of treating people fairly and with a bit of dignity.”

Outsourcing deals

The CQC does not employ experts by experience directly. Instead it contracts supplier organisations to recruit and support service users and carers who want to advise on inspections.

After a tendering exercise, Remploy, which is mostly owned by US firm Maximus, won the contracts to oversee the programme in the north, south and London regions.

The contract for the central region was awarded to the charity Choice Support, one of five providers currently running the programme.

The CQC said any decisions about terms and conditions for experts by experience were the responsibility of supplier organisations.

The regulator said it was currently restricted in what it could say about the deals due to “commercial sensitivity” but insisted it was committed to transparency and would publish details of the contracts in mid-February.

Experts ‘vital’ to inspections

Chris Day, the CQC’s director of engagement, said: “Experts by experience are vital to CQC’s inspections and many other parts of its work.

“The cost of contracts with our new suppliers, Choice Support and Remploy Ltd, is £7 million per year and demonstrates our increased strategic and financial commitment to this programme of work”.

Remploy said the level of pay was set after discussions with user-led groups who will help deliver the expert by experience programme.

A spokesperson for the company said: “User-led organisations will deliver the majority of the contract, supported by Remploy. Service users are at the heart of the programme and will be involved continuously in the development and improvement of the programme.

“The contract was awarded after a competitive tendering process and commences on 1 February. We are confident that we will be able to engage with sufficient numbers of Experts by Experience to successfully deliver the contract.”

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10 Responses to Service users who advise CQC face 50 per cent pay cut

  1. Joe January 19, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    Are these people serious. They are not happy that being paid more than the minimum wage still is undervaluing them?
    I have a very demanding and pressured job and get paid nowhere near £17 p/h.

    If they are not happy then don’t do the inspections. Simple. Is be more than happy to do it.

    • Theia January 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

      Do you apply the same logic to yourself?

    • Jane Howard January 19, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

      ExEs are very often disabled people or people caring for their wives/husbands or other family members with dementia. They are paid on a zero hours contract with no regular income or guarantee of work. They often have to pay for carers to cover for them when they do inspections. You might have a pressured job, but try spending all day and all night caring for somebody who is immobile, doubly incontinent and lashes out and swears at you. Oh and you don’t get paid a penny for that job! A lot of ExEs do the work because they are providing a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves- remember Stafford Hospital? But to be paid £8.25 an hour and then have to pay £9 an hour for cover for your own caring commitments is not possible.

  2. Brian Hunt January 19, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    Remploy have a track record of making things pay by slash & burn actions. They were merciless in closing many work outlets which employed people with disabilities and Disabilities, throwing these lovely people onto the employment scrap heap.
    Will they adopt the same actions in these forthcoming situations.

  3. Bruce R Abbott January 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    I note with interest that Maximus have their fingers in the pie and pose the question. Is this a politically inspired arrangement to pressure all unemployed people with disabilities into signing up to this programme irrespective of ability and skills to properly undertake the work. After all this is the Maximus that determines whether people with disabilities are ‘fit for work’.
    As someone with a disability experienced in working with and for people with disabilities, most of them have insufficient depth or breadth of experience of disability outside of there limited knowledge of their own disability

  4. Nina January 20, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    Experts by Experience often write long and detailed reports (mine are at least 3000-5000 words), and we listen to and witness sometimes very traumatic situations.
    It is a job of great responsibility.
    We might be asking about 20 questions to service users and families, and we observe and sometimes interview staff. I tested staff on their knowledge of safeguarding recently, for example.
    I have alerted inspectors to abuse, and neglect that previous inspections had somehow not addressed.
    I worked as a professional previously (statutory sector) and inspectors I work with sometimes use a lot my evidence in their reports.
    Care workers (and we are often family carers ourselves) getting £7-8 an hour is not good, but care workers don’t work under the constant pressure that family carers do, or have that level of commitment judging by the high turnover of staff and their qualifications, and are often not personally affected by the people they care for.
    Seeing good care workers is one of the best experiences, though, and I highlight it whenever I see it.
    Our input in inspections is occasional, as and when needed, and I take two days to complete inspection work, including the day of the visit and writing up. It’s simply not possible to do it in two hours that we are paid, but that’s never been a problem, as the pay worked out at about just over £8 an hour for about 15 or more hours of work.
    Remploy seem to be profit-focussed from what I read, and this is a matter for the CQC to look at.

  5. Michelle January 20, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    Great deal of sympathy for ExE who in my experience do a wonderful job, the rates for Specialist Advisors were also effectively reduced by 50% in 2014, again with no consultation whatsoever.

    This is a pity especially in the context of a problem with recruitment within CQC.

    However the care industry is one that exploits goodwill by paying minimum wages to carers who often perform the most difficult of roles.

    In turn many providers have had their fees slashed and are at real risk of bankruptcy, this whole industry is a ticking time bomb to which the Government appears completely disparate

  6. Pam January 20, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

    Can’t believe that they have struck down the pay, I guess the people who are running the userled organisations are getting the rest of the money. It is outrageous. What is required of and Expert by Experience is to use their knowledge and experience to talk with people to gain the information. I just hope that the user led organisations will be writing the reports, as they have cut our fee. As a consultant I expect to be paid a decent wage. Are they going to be paying travelling time or are you expected to pay for that yourself? In the past at £17 an hour you didn’t mind travelling time not being included. CQC states “experts by experience The voice of the people who uses services is and will continue to be a vital tool in making sure that health and adult social care is safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.” Hmmmmm don’t think we are that well thought about now. This is a zero contract, no holiday pay at the recommended minimum wage.

  7. Pam January 20, 2016 at 10:53 pm #

    I feel that they say one thing and then do another, they have said that Experts by Experience The voice of the people who uses services is and will continue to be a vital tool in making sure that health and adult social care is safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.”But how does it feel to have a zero contract, no holiday pay and minimum recommended wage. If they were paying a consultant a fee for their knowledge and expertise for NHS England, or Department of Health or CQC they would be paying an appropriate fee, but this has now been downgraded to care workers wages. So we know really where we stand don’t we? We are the carers of service users who provide free care that the Government don’t need to pay, and we get minimum wages. So they have pushed us down to the bottom of the pile and what is a bet the people who are running the organisations are on Salaries with holiday pay etc. etc. Great for them making use of our expertise. Not happy

  8. steph January 22, 2016 at 6:53 am #

    while experts dont have union access , we must go on STRIKE and not bow down to the CQCs lack of real and proper treatment of the people they say are so vital for the health & social care insepctions.

    expert by experience for 3 years ! no more …….