Improving experiences and outcomes from health and social care must be an urgent priority – VODG responds to CQC annual State of Care report

The publication of this year’s influential State of Care report serves as a reminder of the positive impact high quality health and social care services can have on people’s lives.

VODG (the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group), the national body representing leading not-for-profit organisations, welcomes this year’s focus on mental health and learning disability provision.

The latest analysis from regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows that quality ratings have been maintained across adult social care services overall. But there remains significant concerns about people’s experiences of poor care in long-stay inpatient settings. Secluded institutional care is fundamentally wrong and exposes people living in particularly vulnerable circumstances to serious risk of harm. VODG believes that there are no excuses for this type of provision in the 21st century.

Good quality community services offer an alternative and VODG has been calling on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to take urgent action, including:

  • Directing CQC to rate all long-stay hospitals as ‘requiring improvement’ if any person has been living there for more than 12 months, and for the rating to be further downgraded to ‘inadequate’ if anyone has been living there for more than 24 months and for all new admissions to be halted until the rating has improved;
  • Investing now in community provision to enable people with the most complex needs to be supported in ways in which they themselves determine. VODG is calling on the Treasury to establish a community development fund to pump prime the development of these local services.

The CQC report also underlines how fragile the sector is due to under-funding, and the ongoing absence of clear policy proposals to reform social care.

VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said:

“Year on year the State of Care report highlights the precarious financial state of the social care sector and the growing demands placed on it. Today the consequences of that lack of funding are clear. A tipping point has been reached as some people do not receive the care they need, and this is simply unacceptable. We believe the time has come for CQC’s remit to be extended to include full independent performance assessments of local health and social care commissioning. This is crucial to understand how commissioning is focusing on addressing people’s needs and the extent to which statutory duties are being met.”