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CQC healthcare watchdog claim they can cope
A HEALTH watchdog official has pledged Oxfordshire has enough inspectors to monitor the care given to thousands of people in the county.
Last week the Oxford Mail revealed the Care Quality Commission only had two inspectors in place late last year to cover a county that has 447 health organisations.
But the commission’s deputy director in the South, Ian Biggs, said caseloads were “eminently doable” and scheduled inspections would be inspected by April 1.
The Care Quality Commission is charged with inspecting all health and social care services and the lack of staff last year led to Oxford East MP Andrew Smith raising concerns at Westminster.
A CQC spokesman confirmed last night that there are now nine fully-trained inspectors and another being inducted.
That person will join the team next week. Four inspectors joined the Oxfordshire team on February 18.
Yesterday Mr Biggs said: “Each inspector has something like 30-odd services to inspect each year, plus any that need doing as a result of information from the public. That is eminently doable.
“We will have, by the end of this month, completed all the inspections we had planned to carry out as well as responding to concerns as they arrive.”
Councillors on the county’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee and Patients’ Voice also raised their concerns about the shortfall last year.
Mr Biggs said: “The team is now fully populated. There is an eight-week induction programme and that has come to an end.”
Mr Biggs said the county had been supplemented by inspectors from across the UK and there was never a time the CQC could not respond to concerns raised about institutions.
He said: “Before November, we got agreement from the Department of Health to recruit nationally over 200 new inspectors to help us with our programme.
“As a result we needed to reorganise our teams to accommodate those inspectors and we created a new map of inspection teams.
It meant Oxfordshire, for a period of time, had a low number of inspectors.
“But we went into that situation knowingly and put in place mitigating actions to make sure inspections were then covered by other people (from other CQC areas).”
He added: “There are lots of ideas about how often service should be inspected, but very little proper evidence about how many is the right number to have the greatest impact.
“I think there are different ways of doing regulation and we need to explore those, but people say we should do them more often, without bringing evidence that that would have a direct impact.
“We cannot be (at institutions) all the time and I am not sure the public would want the amount of resource that would take.”
Mr Biggs said inspections do not look at every service provided, but instead focus on areas where the public or CQC may have concerns.