Decision not to test CQC inspectors ‘extraordinary’

Vic Rayner, executive director, NCF

The National Care Forum is calling for a reversal of the decision to allow Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors into care homes without testing.

The forum, which represents not-for-profit organisations, has written an open letter to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State of Health and Social Care, and Helen Whately Minister for Care, arguing the decision to exclude CQC inspectors from weekly testing prior to visiting care settings as counter-productive.

Government policy to limit the spread of Covid, which is backed by a £600m infection control fund, put in place a whole-home testing regime designed to test all staff within care homes, regardless of role.

CQC inspectors spend several hours onsite in care homes, moving between different groups of residents and staff. Therefore, there is the potential to transmit the virus both within care homes and between properties, the forum argue.

Vic Rayner, National Care Forum executive director, said: ‘We welcome scrutiny and oversight by the regulator and we all want the CQC to be able to regulate effectively.However, this must include routine regular testing for those inspectors tasked with conducting on-site inspection visits to care settings.

‘Not providing regular testing for CQC inspectors is an extraordinary decision. For months central government and the regulator have been requiring care homes to essentially eradicate the movement of staff and the flow of people, including close family relatives, into homes. Having done this, care homes are now being asked to let inspectors into homes without knowing whether or not they are Covid positive. Understandably they are both shocked and hugely concerned.

‘If inspectors are coming in, they need to be tested – there should be no further debate about this.

‘We call on government to reverse this decision and introduce weekly testing for inspectors immediately.’