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CQC gains stronger powers to act on poor care

Care bill will modernise and simplify laws on care funding, says DH

Louise Prime

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Government’s new Care Bill will ensure that more is done to tackle poor care, the Department of Health promised this morning. It said its Bill will give the Care Quality Commission broader powers to act on poor care, and to “get on with” the new hospital ratings system.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Bill, published today in Parliament, would lead to better quality, more compassionate and joined-up care. He said the Bill responds to the issues raised by Robert Francis QC in his report into the problems at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, in which he highlighted the need for a single, shared version of the truth about quality.

The Bill will give the CQC:

  • the power to require Monitor to put a Foundation Trust into administration if it becomes clinically unsustainable; currently, Monitor can only do this on financial grounds
  • broader powers to act if it spots poor care that requires significant improvement; at the moment, it may act only where a hospital is failing to comply with one of its set standards
  • the legal powers it needs to set up, design and get on with the new ratings system for hospitals “without any political interference”.

It will also make it a criminal offence for providers of NHS secondary care to give false or misleading information on, for example, mortality rates.

Mr Hunt said: “We have swiftly brought in measures to address the findings of Robert Francis’ report that will improve care and mean that patients will be treated with more compassion and respect. I strongly believe that Ofsted-style ratings, improved training for staff and making quality as important as finance will improve NHS care.”

Laws in the Bill will also bring about reforms to care funding. The DH said this would: avoid people having to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for the costs of living in a care home; put a cap on care costs and provide financial support for more people; ensure than someone’s care and support is not interrupted if they move to a different local authority area; and give a new legal right for everyone with a care and support plan to have a personal budget, which they can receive as a direct payment if they wish to.

Mr Hunt said: “Our epic changes to care legislation that will mean, for the first time, people will not have to fear losing their homes in their lifetime to pay care home fees and everyone with a care plan will be able to have a personal budget to choose how they are cared for.

“Importantly, if someone receives care in the south but wants to move to the north to be closer to their family, they will be able to do so without fear of losing their care.”

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