The board, the boring and the rude awakening
By guest blogger JOHN?BURTON
Care Quality Commission monthly board meetings are a bore – like watching paint dry. The very fact that they are boring should worry us – the services they inspect aren’t boring, but the meetings are all about CQC. The board spends most of the meeting in complacent self-congratulation.
At May’s meeting, Louis Appleby, the only non-executive board member who can be relied on to challenge the performance and direction of this moribund, worse-than-useless bureaucracy, did question the skilfully massaged figures and the meaning of a ‘Good’ rating. Nevertheless, the meeting soon settled back into its self-satisfied, white torpor. (CQC are very hot on equalities . . . for other organisations.) Still hurt by his own personal experience of the Scottish regulator, Appleby is due to leave CQC next month.
If there is time at the end of the meeting, members of the public are permitted to ask questions or make statements. This slot is frequently taken by sycophants; stooges who testify to their collaboration in the great works of the Commission. As the meeting was sliding into self-satisfied slumber, it was rudely awoken by three people who were far from happy with the organisation.
A black woman told of her family’s efforts to protect her brother who was detained in a private secure hospital, and of how a CQC inspector told her to stop “wasting her time” because she didn’t deal with individuals. She encountered the same brutal callousness at every level, only to find that even at the CQC board meeting she was blocked. She was followed by an elderly white woman who, through her direct experience of domiciliary care for her husband, cut through all the self-justifying blather of the meeting to give a concise critique of the regulator’s methods and ratings – they’re “on the wrong path” but they don’t listen. And finally, a regular critical attender, David Hogarth, questioned whether CQC would ever find a method of reliably rating a home as ‘Good’.
As if nothing had happened, the CQC chief executive ended the meeting by exhorting the public, friends and relatives to “talk to us and tell us what’s going wrong.” A thick brick wall comes to mind.
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