• CQC board meeting reveals Remploy expert by experience contract “not performing” as expected
  • Incumbent experts claim inspections allocated haphazardly as Remploy subcontracts its duties
  • CQC met Remploy to discuss 11 areas where it expects improvement

The Care Quality Commission has ongoing concerns over its patient experts contract with employment agency Remploy.

Some experts have also said they intend to resign as a result of their frustrations with the contract.

Speaking at the CQC’s board meeting last week, chief executive David Behan said the contract with Remploy “is not performing at the level we want it to and expect it to”. Remploy runs three out of four regional expert by experience contracts. The fourth contract is delivered by Choice Support.

Experts by experience are people with experience of using care services that take part in CQC inspections and monitoring.

Mr Behan said the CQC met with the provider over the summer to discuss 11 areas where it “expects” to see improvements, though he did not outline specific concerns. He added: “We are not retreating from the issue.”

Mr Behan’s comments come after a number of experts employed by Remploy wrote to CQC board members to “express their concerns” about the way the contract was working. Mr Behan said the regulator would respond to the letters in the coming days.

HSJ has seen correspondence from one expert by experience to the CQC. They said they had “absolutely no faith” in Remploy or whether the CQC was “addressing” concerns.

HSJ has also seen a submission to the Commons public accounts committee in June by a group of incumbent experts.

It said “more and more” experts are “intending to resign” over frustrations with a disparity of pay with experts employed by Choice Support; administrative problems; and a lack of training. The document claims Remploy is “adopting an increasingly hands off approach and is assigning several subcontractors to run the experts by experience programme”, with inspections allocated haphazardly and requests from inspectors for experts “not fulfilled” despite experts being available.

In July, the CQC published the results of an internal review into the experts by experience retendering process, which criticised the way the bid proposals were evaluated and then communicated to incumbent experts.

Experts were angered by Remploy’s proposals to cut their hourly rate by more than half. The CQC was forced to intervene on pay rates for the first 12 months of the new contract, which started on 1 February.

A spokeswoman for Remply said: “The [experts by experience’s] work is an essential part of ensuring high standards of care and Remploy are proud to work alongside the CQC in its delivery of these inspections. It is right that we should continually look to improve and enhance the service we give and we work closely with the CQC to make that happen.

“In order to achieve the most effective inspections, [experts] need to be drawn from a breadth of user experience and need to be local to the inspection. Where we are unable to find an [expert] with exactly the right combination of experience and location, we make every effort to raise awareness of the work, and grow our network of suitable [experts].

“Since we have assumed responsibility for the contract [experts by experience] have carried out over 1,200 inspections.”