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The CQC’s latest State of Care report

Author: Martin Hodgson

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its latest annual State of Care assessment of health and social care in England. The State of Care 2016/17 highlights examples of good and outstanding care, and looks at the trends and pressures that service providers are under.

The CQC report states that the regulator now has an effective baseline picture of the quality of health and adult social care in England derived from its inspection and ratings activities.

The conclusion of this year’s State of Care report is that most people are receiving ‘good, safe care’ and that quality has continued to improve overall despite the challenges affecting both health and social care services. However, the CQC describes services as being ‘at full stretch’ and ‘straining at the seams’ and states that future quality may be ‘precarious’.

The report reveals that, as of July 2017:

  • 2% of adult social care services were rated as outstanding
  • 78% were rated good
  • 19% were rated as requires improvement and
  • 1% were rated as inadequate.

Of other regulated services, 6% of NHS acute hospital and mental health core services were also rated as outstanding, and 4% of GP practices. 3% of NHS acute hospital core services, 2% of GP practices and 1% of NHS mental health core services were rated as inadequate.

Close-up of five stars being drawn on a chalkboard

Among the key concerns highlighted by the CQC is the growing demand caused by having an ageing population, especially from increasing numbers of people with complex, long-term or multiple conditions.

CQC inspectors also draw attention to the problems health and social care organisations are facing in attracting and keeping a skilled and able workforce in the present climate. Inspectors note that a combination of greater demand and unfilled vacancies means that staff are working ever harder to deliver the quality of care that people have a right to expect. However, the CQC states that there is a limit to their resilience.

The CQC praises the hard work and dedication of staff in all sectors but has noted that, despite the improvement overall, some services have deteriorated in quality, including 23% of adult social care services who were originally rated as ‘good’ dropping at least one rating. It recommends that services ‘think beyond their traditional boundaries’ and work together across sectors to ensure that future care is more joined-up and co-ordinated. It also found that the services that were most commonly rated as outstanding had leaders who were ‘enthusiastic’ and committed to equality and diversity and established a working ethos based on a culture of equality and human rights.

Referring to the report, Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of CQC, said:

“The fact that the quality of care has been maintained in the toughest climate that most can remember is testament to the efforts of frontline staff, managers and leaders. Many providers have used our inspection reports to improve, and we have seen improvements in safety in particular, although this area remains a big concern and focus for us. However, as people’s health and care needs change and become more complex, a model of care designed for the 20th century is at full stretch and struggling to cope with 21st century problems.”

The report The State of Health Care and Adult Social Care in England 2016/17 can be downloaded from the CQC website.

About the author:

Martin Hodgson MSc, PGCEA is a community psychiatric nurse by background, and has had a long career working as a senior manager in various health agencies, including mental health, primary and community care.

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