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Care Quality Commission: Morecambe Bay Hospitals — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:04 pm on 20th June 2013.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 12:04 pm, 20th June 2013

My Lords, I recall the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, making those points very powerfully some years ago when we debated the Bill that created the CQC. He makes an extremely important point. I think that we can take it from the statements of David Prior yesterday that the decision taken in 2009 to take a generalist approach to inspection was a mistake. The CQC’s inspectors are in one sense specialist inspectors who are trained and supported to carry out their role, which they do to the best of their ability. However, requiring inspectors to have oversight of a wide range of service types from slimming clinics to acute hospitals, and indeed mental health establishments, has spread expertise too thinly.

We are clear that we must now work with the CQC to create a much more specialist approach to inspection, including on mental health. I think that the three new chief inspectors we are appointing will help to do that. It is not the whole answer, because they need to be supported by clinical expertise and by the people who are experts by virtue of their experience in care services. However, I will take away the noble Lord’s idea of a chief inspector of mental health. I must be honest with him that we have not discussed this, but I am sure that we now should.