Exclusive: Care commission under fire after first year

The National Care Standards Commission has come under strong
criticism from both care providers and inspectors as its first year
of operation draws to a close, writes Katie

Care providers said 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 the quality of

In addition, providers complained about the delay in receiving
their inspection reports, with some homes having to wait for seven
months or more. 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 Registration and
Inspection 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 IT systems, and provide better training to promote

In addition, it 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 of operation.

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