Just a quarter of the Care Quality Commission’s inspection reports have been published on time, new figures show.
According to information in the CQC’s May board papers, 26% of reports under the regulator’s new inspection regime in 2014-15 were published within 50 days, LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal reports.
A switch to a “more robust data source” revealed that performance was worse than previously thought, with the CQC revising the figure down from 33%.
The regulator has not set a target for releasing reports, but it expects “a period of up to 50 working days between the final site visit date and a published final report”.
According to the board papers, the longest hospital report took 146 days to publication from the last site visit date.
There is variation in performance between the CQC’s different inspectorates, with 28% of adult social care and hospital reports being published within 50 days, but 16% in primary medical services.
Speaking at the CQC’s board meeting last week, chief executive David Behan said: “It is important that any report that we are going to make is made in a timely way.
“Otherwise the risk is that people will select a service about which we’ve got concerns, but we’ve not published them.”
The CQC has come under fire this year for delays in publishing its reports.
In April it drew criticism from Circle, the former operator of Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, after publishing a report for the hospital upgrading its rating from “inadequate” to “requires improvement” based on a reinspection that took place before the CQC’s original, highly critical report was published.
However there is evidence the CQC has made some progress on timeliness. In the last quarter of 2014-15, 39% of hospital reports were published in the 50 day window, compared to 17 per cent in the previous quarter.
The CQC’s board papers also reveal that there has been a significant decline in the number of hospital enforcement actions it carried out last year, from 147 in 2013-14 to 40 in 2014-15.
According to the papers “the main reason for reduction in enforcement activity… is the reduction in number of inspections”.
“This is consistent with our approach of improving the quality of our inspections rather than, as historically, being so heavily driven by volume of inspections,” the papers said.