CQC orders re-inspections over duplicate comments in dozens of care home reports

The health watchdog has ordered dozens of care and nursing homes to be re-inspected after duplicate comments were found in scores of inspection reports.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the comments in question were made by two “Experts by Experience” – lay people who speak to service users during inspections – and one specialist adviser.

The commission said that the affected reports have been reviewed and many have now been republished with comments removed and the rating of service remaining the same.

But it said 68 settings, almost all in the north of England, will be re-inspected.

Kate Terroni, chief inspector of adult social care at the commission, said: “As soon as we became aware of these issues, the individuals concerned were immediately removed from inspection activity.”

She said the majority of the reports affected by the comments have been republished without these quotes as they did not affect the rating of the service.

But she said: “There are also a number of locations where, following review, we have decided to re-inspect to ensure that the public voice is fully reflected.

“For those reports where the specialist adviser was involved, we will be re-inspecting to ensure that we can be confident in the ratings and findings.

“All providers affected have now been informed and updates for each location are highlighted on our website.

“We are taking all actions necessary to reduce the risk of this happening again.”

A spokeswoman for the commission, which inspects more than 17,000 settings a year, said the issue with the Experts by Experience involved 78 inspections – 77 in the north of England and one in London.

She said that 38 of these settings were being re-inspected.

The issue relating to the specialist adviser involved 30 homes, all in the north of England. All these will now be re-inspected.

Experts by Experience engage with people using services, their families and support organisations and their findings are fed into inspectors’ judgments and may be included in reports.

The spokeswoman said the problem was uncovered through the CQC’s quality assurance process and the commission is undertaking a “lessons learned” to reduce the chances of it happening again.

She said the commission remains committed to ensuring that the voice of people who use services is reflected in all its inspection activity.

The law firm Ridouts said in a statement that where the reports have been removed, ratings have reverted to that found at the previous visit and “this means that some providers ratings have decreased overnight”.

The firm said that one provider has lost its outstanding rating and another has been downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

Ridouts said it has noticed a general shift in CQC using more standard phrasing in inspection reports with the intention of ensuring consistency.

But it said: “This practice is concerning as it could have an unintended consequence of encouraging members of inspection teams, including Experts by Experience, to repeat certain phrases over a number of inspection reports.

“This could make it harder to distinguish between genuine findings and those that may have been incorrectly repeated, as appears to have happened in the current case.”

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