Staff working for the Care Quality Commission are demoralised and fear making a mistake because of impossible workloads, a union survey has found.

Unison decided to survey its members working at the CQC, including some nurses, between October and December last year after the CQC had failed to carry out a staff survey for nearly 18 months.

Mimicking the approach the regulator takes in inspecting hospitals, Unison devised 16 essential standards, with which it said the CQC should be compliant, including enabling staff to have a healthy work/life balance and providing clear and inspirational leadership.

Of the 206 staff who responded, equivalent to around 10 per cent of the workforce, the overwhelming majority felt the CQC did not comply with any of the essential standards.

Only 5 per cent of staff felt they had the training needed to do their job, reflecting concerns raised by nurses in a Royal College of Nursing survey earlier this year that inspectors did not have the expertise to judge services and needed more specialist support.

The survey found inspectors had average caseloads of 60 organisations, more than double what they should be, and 85 per cent of respondent had concerns about being able to manage their workload.

The report said: “Staff feel demoralised by high profile errors, constant changes of direction, inconsistencies and the major shortage of staff and resources to cover the work in hand…

“Inspectors are fearful about the sheer number of services they are responsible for – and the impossibility of knowing all their services.”

The report also set out “compliance actions” which the CQC should take to improve, recommending senior management to shadow inspectors in order to understand what is involved with a compliance review.

A spokeswoman for the CQC said it was recruiting more inspectors and introducing a new judgement framework to help inspectors make more consistent decisions.

She said: “We take the issues raised here very seriously and are concerned that any of our staff feel unsupported at work… We will be carrying out our own staff survey later this year, which will be independently and professionally verified, which we are confident will attract a larger and more representative response.”