A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) admitted there is no arrangement to monitor criminal records of staff and providers at care homes.
There are no guidelines about how often or whether Criminal Records Bureau checks should be re-conducted, the FOI request revealed.
A BBC Panorama programme that showed poor standards of care and serious abuse at the Winterbourne View care centre, a hospital for people with learning disabilities, triggered the CQC response.
“Neither CRB nor CQC make any recommendations about how often or whether CRB checks should be re-done. Employers should decide about this, taking into account the kind of work their staff do and any risks there are”, said the CQC response adding it only requires Criminal Records Bureau check at the first registration.
“We do not feel that the lack of regular checks weakens CQC enforcement. Checking criminal records more frequently would not necessarily enhance our information because it would only pick up if a new criminal record had happened to be applied since we last checked. We would expect to receive notification about relevant criminal offences, which would be more timely,” said a CQC spokesperson.
The CQC has taken enforcement action in the adult social sector on 221 occasions in 2010, 19 times in the independent sector and 13 times in the NHS, the FOI further revealed.
Meanwhile Southern Cross, the troubled care homes operator that serves 30,000 people, whilst announcing “orderly closure” of its business and transferring 252 of its 750 care homes to new operators on July 11, met its shareholders at its general meeting. Trading of its shares has been suspended since the announcement.
The Alzheimer’s Society has written to Southern Cross to take care of residents since the closure announcement has sparked concerns that homes could shut-down and people would lose support.
“The problem with any regulator, whether the CQC or the FSA, is that it is regulating a huge amount of entities which makes it hard to do anything other than tackle the perceived high-risk areas”, said Alistair Cunningham, financial planning director at Wingate Financial Planning.