The Care Quality Commission’s robustness and leadership will be tested in its ability to regain control of the care quality agenda − rather than constantly reacting to events
Leadership is tested much more fiercely in failure than it is during success. It is therefore now that we will see the true mettle of the Care Quality Commission’s new leadership.
‘Failure is a constant when leading organisations operating within complex health systems − especially healthcare regulators’
The CQC’s leadership is strong enough to earn continued support − a view shared from the health secretary to the British Medical Association. That leadership is no less strong than it was a week ago, despite the admission by CQC chair David Prior that the commission is “guilty as charged” over its handling of the investigation into the inspection of Morecambe Bay foundation trust.
In fact, it is probably useful that a little bit of the gloss has been rubbed off – expectations will be a little more realistic now.
Mr Prior’s speedy admission of guilt also marks a departure from the previous regime which − out of an understandable desire to find some breathing space − too often tried to pretend all was well.
Skeletons in the closet
Failure is a constant when leading organisations operating within complex health systems − and this is especially true with healthcare regulators. As with the secret services, your triumphs mainly go unnoticed, unremarked or attributed to others, while your slip ups end up on the front page and in front of a parliamentary committee.
The CQC’s robustness will be tested in its ability to regain control of the care quality agenda − rather than constantly reacting to another event or allegation. This will take time – and the organisation will continue to suffer reputational damage in the meantime.
This period of pain will be shortened if the CQC can reassure itself that there are no other skeletons in its closet. The commission was dysfunctional for so long − not always through reasons of its own making − that identifying and bringing these issue to light will not be easy. But the events of the past few days have proved the CQC will find it very hard to move on until it has come to terms with its past.
Dealing with failure is the true test of the CQC leadership