In 2012, following the Stafford hospital and other high profile NHS scandals, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) employed 134 additional inspectors despite them failing core competency tests. The Care Quality Commission are the regulatory body in charge of NHS hospitals and at the time of hiring, they were severely under fire for failing to protect the patients who had been treated at one of several sub-par hospitals. At a time when inspection processes should have been tightened up and quality improved, the CQC decided to lower the pass mark for inspector jobs. It had previously sat at 60% but in order to quickly fill the positions, a new report has revealed that candidates with much lower scores were appointed. It has not been revealed what the pass mark was revised down to.
The hiring process has been labelled as ‘significantly flawed’, with the repercussions still being felt today as 126 of these new recruits are still in their jobs at the time of writing. This equates to 1 in every 10 CQC hospital inspectors. The report suggests that the regulator’s judgements about the safety of the hospitals and care homes it visits could be impaired because of these failings.
The CQC is already struggling to recover public confidence after senior officials were found to have ordered the suppression of a 2013 report, which detailed failings made by the regulator over the death of an infant. This scandal in summer last year was quickly followed by revelations made to a newspaper by an ex CQC inspector regarding ‘inadequate training’ and ‘poor standards’ amongst staff. Rebecca Prideaux told the Telegraph that inspectors were taken to luxury hotels to watch presentations and then sent out to inspect hospitals with barely ever having stepped into one as part of the training. Commenting on these latest revelations, Rebecca said: “This means staff who won’t be able to identify risks to patients and care home residents, who don’t have experience of the sector, who are simply substandard are being sent to make inspections into safety. This is clearly putting the public at risk.”
These issues have come to light as part of an ongoing whislteblowing investigation. It has been found that records which provide any evidence about why the recruits were given the jobs have since been destroyed.