Inspection review mooted following Whorlton Hall inquiry

More unannounced and evening and weekend inspections, more regular Provider information returns and swifter publication of inspection reports are among the regulatory changes to be considered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) when inspections resume.

The pledges follow the publication of an independent review into the organisation’s regulation of Whorlton Hall between 2015 and 2019.

Other recommendations from the report include:

  • improving the response to abuse allegations, safeguarding alerts and whistleblowing
  • prioritising gathering the views and experiences of people using services and their families on inspection
  • more flexible inspection approach when information about a service indicates that it is at risk of failing its service users
  • not registering isolated, unsuitable or outdated services or allowing them to expand
  • displaying data for services in a user-friendly way to help inform inspections.

CQC commissioned Professor Glynis Murphy to undertake the review to look at whether the abuse of patients at Whorlton Hall could have been recognised earlier by the regulatory process. Professor Murphy was also asked to make recommendations for how CQC can improve its regulation of similar services in the future.

The review finds that there were a number of reasons why CQC didn’t detect abusive behaviour of staff in Whorlton Hall. Professor Murphy found that CQC followed its procedures in relation to Whorlton Hall but concludes that a number of improvements are needed to strengthen its inspection and regulatory approach.

Phase two of the review, which will include further improvements for CQC, will be published later this year.

In response, Ian Trenholm, chief executive of CQC, said that the inquiry’s recommendations would be incorporated into new strategy for regulating mental health, learning disability and/or autism services.

So far, inspectors and their managers have been given supporting information to help them identify and respond to ‘closed cultures’ in services. The CQC has also issued guidance on registration and variations to registration for providers supporting people with a learning disability and autistic people, and will publish a review of restraint, seclusion and segregation.

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