The Care Quality Commission has asked the government for a 10% boost to its budget so that it can make more inspections.
The regulator is in talks with the Department of Health to increase its annual funding by £15m, chair Jo Williams told the House of Commons’ health select committee today.
The call follows a 70% fall in CQC inspections of adult social care services in the past year, as revealed by Community Care, and criticisms of the regulator’s failure to respond to abuse concerns at Winterbourne View learning disability hospital.
The CQC, which was launched in April 2009, is also operating on a budget that is significantly lower than the combined resources of its predecessor commissions, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission.
“The expectation is that we are a light-touch regulator, but there’s an appetite from the public that we are more visible,” Williams told MPs. “I believe we do need more resources and I know that that is difficult in the world which we are in at the moment.”
Williams said the money was needed to pay for more inspectors and experts in specialist fields to work alongside them.
She confirmed the CQC had 121 inspector posts vacant, although it is fill some of them soon.
Williams denied that the CQC was not capable of regulating the sector effectively on current resources but said investigating and intervening in failing services was resource-intensive.
She added that inspection levels were now running at “around 600 a month” but she wanted to double this in the coming years.
Amanda Sherlock, director of operations at the CQC, told MPs that inspections were not operating at business-as-usual levels.
This was because of the resource implications of implementing new systems of registration of providers across health and adult social care.
The select committee is to publish a report on the CQC.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The Care Quality Commission has agreed a budget settlement with us for 2011-12. The CQC’s financial position is kept under constant review during the financial year.”
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