Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Care watchdog chairman to resign

Dame Jo Williams is to resign as chairman of health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission

The chairman of health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to resign, it has been announced.

Dame Jo Williams will step down when a successor is found, the organisation said. Her departure comes just months after Cynthia Bower resigned as chief executive of the CQC, which had been heavily criticised over the previous year.

Dame Jo said: "Having served on the Board of the CQC for almost four years, and as chair for nearly three, I am proud of the progress we have made. It has been a demanding and complex role, and there have undoubtedly been challenges as we registered 40,000 providers and brought the entire health and social care system under one set of standards.

"But there is now clear evidence that our regulation is beginning to have an impact on the care that people receive, and it feels as if the organisation is moving into the next stage of its development.

"It has been a privilege to hold this important role but I now believe it is time to step aside and for a new chair to lead CQC into the next stage."

Ms Bower announced her resignation in February around the time that the Department of Health published its findings from a performance and capability review of the organisation. It said the regulator had made considerable achievements since 2009 but more needed to be done to improve its services.

In December last year, a report from the National Audit Office highlighted problems as the CQC took on the role of registering all providers of health and social care. It said the level of inspections of care homes in England fell "significantly" as a result, and the CQC had failed to deliver value for money.

That followed a report from MPs last September which found the regulator had "distorted" its priorities by focusing on registering providers. Registering organisations led to around a 70% drop in the number of inspections to check care standards and safety, it said. The CQC argued it was faced with the challenge of setting up an entirely new regulatory system and registering more than 40,000 provider locations against tight deadlines set by the department.

Dame Jo will appear at a health select committee meeting on Tuesday where she will give an update on the organisation's performance. She has faced criticism for allegedly casting doubt on the mental stability of a high-profile whistleblower who she apparently wanted the then Health Secretary to remove from the CQC's board.

Una O'Brien, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, said: "I would like to thank Jo for her tireless and dedicated service in leading the CQC as chair since 2010, and before that as a non-executive director from its inception in 2008. Jo has shown sustained loyalty and commitment to the organisation, and to the patients and the public its serves. She is leaving the CQC well prepared for the next phase of its development."

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