The CQC, Ford escorts and failings


Oh dear. Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, has written a blog that makes my eyes repeatedly blink. And my brain slowly and repeatedly turn and churn. Chucking me back to days of car sickness and towel caught vomit on the back seat of a Ford escort. Here’s a walk through…

Writing about the Panorama programme shown this week documenting abuse at a residential home run by the Morleigh Group. [I’ve not watched the programme. I need to develop guts of steel to do so.] Sutcliffe is both defensive and distancing in her ramblings. 

She kicks off in the first paragraph with the statement “We warned [in a report] that adult social care is approaching a tipping point…” Mmm. A better start, given the content of the Panorama programme, might have been something along the lines of “I’m horrified that such abuse continues to happen in care provision in the UK, despite our continued efforts… We clearly need to do better.”

And continues: “The Panorama footage was not shared with the CQC in advance so I watched like everyone else.”

Blimey. Not sure what the point of this statement is but it doesn’t half ring some serious ‘queen of the land’ bells. A moment or two of self reflection (or a good mate to pull you up on these developing tendencies) might be in order… 

Sutcliffe found that “two moments in particular made me despair”.

Phew. It wasn’t that bad. Only two moments. Allowing reference to the mum test.

“That could have been your mum or mine…”

This was followed by a remarkably weak defence of CQC actions around the Morleigh Group:

“these are services we have been worried about for some time; we had kept them under close scrutiny, inspected regularly and set out what they needed to do to improve through our reports and enforcement action”.

‘Worrying about’ services you know to be failing really ain’t a robust defence. And, clearly, close scrutiny and regular inspections aren’t working. These are people’s lives. A fact that an entire gamut of senior NHS bods apparently still do not get. I ‘worry’ about getting to a meeting on time. About meeting funding deadlines. Not about people (residents) being brutalised.

There’s a muddled and confusing tale of inspections before and after receiving info from Panorama and the (necessary) identifying of “a serious decline in quality”. The CQC never at fault. Failing services brought to public attention by the actions of public and/or journalists have typically ‘just declined’ between news breaking and the previous inspection. Removing any need for scrutiny of the inspection process and what might be missing in terms of identifying failing practice the first time round. Before people are brutalised. Or worse. 

The CQC role section is a cracker. Beginning with unqualified condemnation of the Morleigh Group. Of course. The responsibility lies with them. 

cqc-roleThen the bizarre statement ‘But it is not unnatural when dreadful things happen in the sector’. ‘Unnatural’?  Eh? How far have senior CQC staff become detached from reality?

The following paragraph is also deeply concerning.


Setting clear expectations? They were kept under close scrutiny? Sigh. The Morleigh Group failed. The CQC failed. There is no wriggle room. Bleating about working hard while failings continue is deeply offensive (and makes utter mockery of the mum test).

Sutcliffe continues to dig a deeper hole. Including an extract from a ‘fairy tale’ letter from a punter which rings even louder alarm bells about CQC processes.

cqc3‘I think I should give you a resident’s viewpoint…’ ‘Recovering from the shock’? ‘Right the wrongs here… ‘ Eh? Really? I’m trying and failing to imagine the concerned ‘resident’, sitting in her bedroom, pen poised, reflecting on how much better life is now staff no longer do ‘wrongs’ to her and other ‘residents’. Nah. I can’t.

The overall message of this ill judged post: it wasn’t the Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care or her CQC kingdom what done it. The failings lie firmly with the provider. [And we all know, sadly, they ain’t an outlier.]

10 thoughts on “The CQC, Ford escorts and failings

  1. I’ve just read an inspection report from a private hospital that states they were focussing on x wards – we did not visit xxxxxx as we were told that our presence would upset the patients!!!! They got requiring improvement without it, but you have to ask what was going on on that ward to say CQC couldn’t go in?????

  2. So agree
    I didn’t watch it too busy trying to manage support to keep my son out of ATU but did hear Andrea Sutckiffe on News and cringed at her response So worrying for the mist vulnerable in society, yet not rocket science to solve somewhere money being made on the back of the most vulnerable, CQC seem to have no teeth to take action,just don’t understand it.

  3. Not seen the footage and don’t intend to , what a statement , the clear path to firm action is magically only visible and available when risk is made public. Yet more pantomime. Judged accurately as ineffective and unprepared for their duties .’ Righting the wrongs’ is just too awful and sadly comic sounding.

  4. No Ms Sutcliffe it would not have been your mum – on a mere whiff of ‘a tiny bit poor’ rating and your mum would be in your car and up the drive.

    It is other people’s mum or dad, son or daughter who are left in in these dungeons – even if said ‘home ‘ has been rated ‘ bloody awful’ – Actiom ? ‘Back next year to have another look’;

  5. Sara once again you have written exactly how it is, and how we all know it is. And it goes on and on and on. I dont know what to do to stop it.

  6. Some days ago I watched Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC programme about relatives who were being barred from visiting their elderly loved ones in their care homes because they were deemed to be ‘troublemakers’ because they complained about the service their relatives were receiving.

    One relative said it all really. She said ‘the government are giving the CQC lots more teeth, but unfortunately the CQC are not prepared to bite’. Spot on.

  7. Lies, dam lies and CQC Press Releases – unbelievably, the CQC announced last week that it has lifted the Warning Notice on Sloven. The media (including in Oxfordshire) swallowed the rose-tinted press release hook line and sinker!

    Look at the actual CQC report – Sloven still provides an unsafe environment and someone attempted to mislead the CQC on a point of material significance – the CQC found that there was no safety and risk management plan in place for 25% of patients although the CQC states:

    “We were told that every patient now had this in place”

    Read more with a link to the CQC report at:

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