The National Care Standards Commission has come under strong
criticism from care providers and inspectors as its first year of
operation draws to a close.
Care providers told Community Care that inspections were
too bureaucratic, inconsistent, and still subject to individual
inspectors’ foibles. They said that inspectors did not always
distinguish between standards and regulations and that the way
services were being scored was not a true reflection of their
In addition providers complained about delays in receiving their
inspection reports, with some homes having to wait for more than
seven months. Figures from the NCSC show that at the end of January
only 35 per cent of inspection reports had been completed. Overall,
22,203 inspections had been carried out.
Frank Ursell, chief executive officer of the Registered Nursing
Home Association, said that his members viewed the NCSC as “a
“They weren’t properly prepared and didn’t understand the scope of
the job,” he said.
Meanwhile, inspectors have also identified areas in need of
improvement. The National Association of Inspection and
Registration Officers makes 13 recommendations in its annual
conference report, despite acknowledging the NCSC’s positive impact
on the sector, particularly in relation to training.
It highlights a need to “urgently reduce the level of unnecessary
and frequently repetitive bureaucracy”, address the problems with
the IT systems, and provide better training to promote
In addition Nairo would like to see a better match between the
standards and the regulations, and a review of the NCSC’s standard
letters, which are described as poorly worded, rude and
The report says that morale is low among inspectors who felt staff
shortages had made targets unreasonable. It was suggested that, if
things did not improve, there could be an exodus from registration
and inspection work.
The conference report concludes: “Enthusiasm for the commission
remains high but it will dissipate if the boards and directors do
not listen to the concerns of inspectors. Ways must be found to
make changes to procedures and methods that are supported and
preferably led by inspectors themselves.”
The Care Commission in Scotland has also come under fire from care
home providers and inspectors, but the Care Standards Inspectorate
for Wales appears to have fared slightly better in its first year