Robust Regulation of Care Services

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2012 Local Government Service Group Conference
23 February 2012
Carried as Amended

This Conference believes that effective regulation of health and social care services is a vital safeguard to ensure people who use services are protected, and standards of care are upheld.

This is more vital than ever because we have a growing population who will rely on care services at some point in their lives, and because marketisation and privatisation of services have seen the profit motive undermine care standards.

Members working in the UK care regulators continue to do a very important job in very difficult circumstances. Care regulators have been subject to numerous reorganisations over the years – creating uncertainty and job losses for staff, and worsening the service they are able to provide for the public. These reorganisations have also created problems around different pay, terms and conditions of employment for staff now working for the same regulator.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) suffered a budget reduction of a third when it came into being. Huge staffing shortages, capacity problems and a time-consuming and bureaucratic provider registration process led to a drastic reduction in inspections. Our members in CQC strongly believe this has left the public vulnerable as illustrated by the revelations of abuse in the Winterbourne care facility run by the Castlebeck company. CQC has now moved the focus back to on-site inspections and created better systems for dealing with whistleblowers.

CQC needs to focus its inspection activities as far as possible by using the available information effectively but also needs to acknowledge that at present information is scant in some sectors of care. It is debateable whether CQC has enough staff and resources to operate effectively across the range of health and social care services it is now responsible for.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive (SGE) to campaign for all UK care regulators to have:

1)Robust methodology and sufficient funding and resources;

2)Systems for setting and inspecting minimum standards of training and skills in services;

3)Systems to ensure that care inspectors have manageable caseloads, fit for purpose IT systems and proper administrative support;

4)High quality training and development provision for staff;

5)Staff with relevant clinical and professional knowledge and expertise as well as regulatory competence;

6)Strong leadership and management which is able and willing to act independently and stand up to the Government of the day ;

7)Pay and conditions of employment which are fair and equitable.

Conference also calls on the SGE to work to secure full negotiating and consultation rights for UNISON in the civil service arena so all staff working for care regulators can be adequately represented.