Committee concludes care regulatory system “sufficiently rigorous”

Scotland’s care regulator, the Care Inspectorate, welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee conclusion that the inspection system for care of older people is “sufficiently rigorous” and said the Committee’s inclusion of the Care Inspectorate’s proposals for improvement in their recommendations was a strong endorsement of the Inspectorate’s direction of travel.

The report examined whether the system of safeguards for the quality of care is robust and whether it successfully identifies poorly performing services. Its key finding that “the current regulatory system is sufficiently rigorous to identify care services for older people which are failing to deliver high quality care” was welcomed.

The inquiry was launched in the wake of concerns raised by individual high profile cases and makes a series of specific recommendations. It comes just months after the Care Inspectorate took over regulation of the care sector and embarked on a three-year change programme designed to build on the existing strengths of the Scottish regulatory and scrutiny system.

The report’s recommendations for improvement include many of the proposals made by the Care Inspectorate to the Inquiry, including a full review of the National Care Standards, increased user focus and stronger enforcement powers.

Commenting, Care Inspectorate Chair, Professor Frank Clark, said the recommendations were helpful and in line with the changes being introduced since the Care Inspectorate was created. He said:

“We strongly welcome this report. This inquiry was launched after some high profile cases both here and south of the border. These prompted the question whether the scrutiny system is successfully identifying poorly performing services. We shared the sense of horror many felt at the poor quality of care these cases revealed and were keen to see the issue thoroughly investigated.

“The cross-party committee has now concluded that the system is ‘sufficiently rigorous’. That is a vote of confidence and a testament to the hard work of the thousands of care staff across Scotland we work with who are dedicated to improving the quality of care.

“What’s more, the fact that the Committee has incorporated many of our suggestions for improvement as recommendations in their report is a strong endorsement of our direction of travel.

“Taken together, this report is a real source of assurance that not only is the system rigorous but it is also on the right track. This is backed up by the Cabinet Secretary’s recent announcement that the Care Inspectorate will have financial stability for the next three years.

“This has been a thorough examination of how Scotland’s care services are inspected and regulated, but the MSPs make clear that there can be no place for complacency. We wholeheartedly agree. Since the Care Inspectorate was formed eight months ago, we have embarked on reforms that build on the strengths of the Scottish system.

“The Committee has accepted our suggestion that the National Care Standards should be reviewed, enforcement powers strengthened and that people who use services, their carers and all health and social care professionals are encouraged to play an even greater role in assessing the quality of care. We think that is right and their recommendations are consistent with where we are going.

“Since our formation, we have been pursuing this approach, creating a new national enquiry line and inviting anonymous complaints from people with concerns over the quality of care. We have already speeded up the inspection system with 86% of draft inspection reports now ready within just 20 days, compared to around 60% for the previous year. And, just last month, we launched a national campaign to bolster public involvement by encouraging people to get involved. We will continue to work to put the appropriate actions in place to make these recommendations a reality.

“Wherever we find that quality falls short of what people have a right to expect, we work with that service to make sure improvements are made and have powers to insist that services make changes.  We do this by working in close partnership with care staff, people who use services, their carers and key partner bodies to make sure Scotland has an inspection regime that delivers.”