• CQC chief pledges to open up regulator’s data on care providers
  • Watchdog will appoint new chief digital officer to strengthen executive team
  • CQC chair defends inspection process as “hugely improved” since Liverpool Community Health Trust scandal

The public will be granted increased access to data held by the Care Quality Commission about the quality of care provided by NHS organisations and GPs, the regulator’s new chief executive has pledged.

Speaking to MPs this afternoon, the watchdog’s new chief executive Ian Trenholm told the health and social care select committee he wants to open up the CQC’s data streams.

Mr Trenholm, who replaced Sir David Behan at the CQC this July, also said he planned to expand the CQC’s executive team with a new chief digital officer to broaden the digital services the CQC offers.

Asked about his ambitions for the CQC, Mr Trenholm said he wanted to “take the organisation onto the next stage; an easier organisation to do business with and a more attractive place to work and to make the organisation more public facing.

“We have an awful lot of information that we gather and process and use for our own judgements but actually what I would like to do is make that information more widely available to the public, so the public will know what we know.”

He said this was not about the CQC getting into new work or becoming a data repository, adding much of the data and information the CQC gathered was used internally and he wanted to “make those data streams more available so the public can access them”.

Mr Trenholm said much of his work at the CQC would be “internally focused” to improve the operation of the regulator and ensure it was easy for providers to do business with the CQC.

He said: “I am also building the executive team by adding a chief digital officer. I want to enable the CQC to be seen as a genuinely easy place to deal with that has a good suite of digital services and an easy organisation to work with.”

Labour MP Rosie Cooper, who helped expose the Liverpool Community Health Trust scandal, strongly criticised the inspection approach, saying: “Hope isn’t a strategy. We need something better than this. What you’re describing doesn’t give me any comfort.”

CQC chairman Peter Wyman defended the regulator, saying the inspection process had been “hugely improved” since the Liverpool scandal.

He added: “It is an inspection process I have confidence in. If Liverpool happened again, I am confident we would respond better. We have better processes and we have learned a lot.”

Whistleblowing to the CQC

The Care Quality Commission has received 8,449 whistleblowing enquiries in the year to March 2018.

Under a Freedom of Information Act request, the CQC told HSJ these reports led to 182 responsive inspections with 476 reports resulting in a planned inspection being brought forward.

A total of 1,940 reports were referred to another organisation such as a local council.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, 35 CQC staff raised concerns internally.

The regulator told HSJ none of these were considered to be a legally protected disclosures under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.