The safety of health and care services remains the Care Quality Commission’s ‘biggest concern’, according to a new report from the regulator.

  • More than one in 10 trusts rated “inadequate” for safety
  • CQC’s State of Care report says majority of health and care services rated “good”
  • “Significant correlation” between trust finances and quality

The CQC’s annual State of Care report, published today, says that while the majority of health and care services have been rated “good”, the level of quality variation is of “great concern” and there continues to be an “unacceptable level of poor care”.

David Behan

David Behan said ‘good leaders are what make the difference’ to care quality

Of the inspections which the CQC had carried out to the end of May, 7 per cent of acute, primary medical and adult social care providers in England were rated “inadequate”.

Across all sectors, services were most likely to be rated inadequate on safety, with 13 per cent of hospitals and 6 per cent of primary medical services rated inadequate in this area.

The proportion of hospitals rated “good” or “outstanding” lags significantly behind primary and adult social care. While the CQC has rated 80 per cent of GP practices and nearly 60 per cent of adult social care providers with the two highest ratings, for hospitals and trusts it is only 38 per cent.

The regulator also said it had evidence that its regulation methodology “encourages improvement”.

Of the reinspections it has carried out so far, half of providers have been able to improve their ratings within six months in at least one of the five inspection domains.

David Behan, the CQC’s chief executive, said: “The health and social care sector is facing an unprecedented level of challenge – so it’s encouraging that our findings show that the majority of people are receiving good or outstanding care.

“However, we have also found a wide variation in the quality of care people receive.”

He said “variation in care” was “not just about the money”, and “good leaders are what make the difference”. Ninety-four per cent of services rated good or outstanding received the same ratings for their leadership.

The CQC said that analysis of its NHS ratings showed a “weak but significant correlation” between financial performance and quality ratings.

Trusts rated “outstanding” or “good” had an average deficit of £2m, “which was significantly less than the average deficit of £32m for trusts that were rated ‘inadequate’”.

The report said this was “in line with the theory that safer, better care does not necessarily cost more, and… good leadership is able to plan for high quality care alongside good use of resources”.