Only 48 percent of independent disability services are managing to meet government standards, according to a new Care Quality Commission (CQC) report. Of the 145 sites inspected during the study, failings were identified relating to the use of restraint, care planning, safeguarding, and duration of patient stay.
Significantly, the report also showed that there was a vast difference between the quality of care at NHS and private facilities. Sixty-eight percent of NHS providers were found to be compliant with welfare standards, in comparison to only 33 percent of independent healthcare providers.
After the Winterbourne View scandal, a considerable amount of investigation has gone into different providers’ responses to abuse allegations. IHAL (Improving Health and Lives) discovered that NHS units were almost five times more likely to comply with CQC standards on the matter than private ones.
Another area of particular concern for the CQC is the use of restraint in disabled services. CQC Chair, Jo Williams spoke of the problems they encountered:
“All too often, inspection teams found that people using services were at risk of being restrained inappropriately because staff often did not understand what actions count as a restraint.”
She also highlighted the ineffective review procedures following the use of restraints:
“When restraint happened there was inadequate review of these [incidents], putting people at risk of harm and abuse.”
Some people, however, have been critical of the way the investigation has been carried out. Professor Chris Thompson, Director of Public Affairs at independent provider Priory Group, said that the generic statement that private units were more likely to fail was “too broad in its assertion”. He also said that he was “not convinced” that private and NHS providers were inspected consistently by the CQC.
The CQC has urged immediate review and reform of the current care system. The NHS has emphasized the need for community-based alternatives to hospitalisation for those with learning difficulties and behavioural problems.
Service providers were also advised to reduce their use of restraint and provide sufficient training for staff.
Written by Katy McIntosh