People now have more choice over their care but improvements in quality have stalled in recent years, the Care Quality Commission has said.

The Care Quality Commission’s State of Health and Adult Social Care in England report said acute hospitals and GP practices had improved convenience for patients.

But the CQC found that although there had been real improvements in both health care and adult social care “over time”, there had been no “significant upward shift” during the period covered by the report of 2009-10.

Among concerns identified by the CQC were:

  • mixed progress in avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions and ensuring effective hospital discharge;
  • wide variations in the support available for people when leaving hospital after a stroke;
  • over-occupancy and inadequate staffing in a ‘significant minority’ of mental health inpatient wards;
  • big differences in access to direct payments and personal budgets for care around the country.

CQC chair Dame Jo Williams said the overall picture of health and social care was “far from perfect” and warned that the forthcoming changes meant the next few years would be a “crucial time” for the sector.

“It will be vital for all parts of the health and social care system to continue this upward trend and consolidate the best of what has worked well for people who use services,” she said.