England's social care regulator has admitted its inspection rate has fallen but denied claims that it is "hampered by bureaucracy and red tape".
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) admitted it failed to respond to at least two warnings from a former nurse about the treatment of vulnerable adults at Winterbourne View residential hospital, in Bristol, and issued an "unreserved apology" earlier this week.
The apology came as the Government ordered a report into how warnings of systematic abuse towards patients at Winterbourne View were not acted upon by local authorities and the CQC following secret filming by BBC Panorama.
An an inspector working for the CQC has claimed the regulator was understaffed and unable to make the necessary inspections. The source told the Daily Mail inspections of hospitals had been sidelined and the CQC was "completely hampered by bureaucracy and red tape".
He said: "We are so deskbound that inspectors are unable to do what they are supposedly paid to do - inspect. What was uncovered at Winterbourne is a direct result of this."
He added the CQC was more interested in IT systems and admin skills than ensuring social care was up to scratch and the number of inspections carried out had decreased due to a lack of inspectors.
A CQC spokeswoman admitted inspection rates had fallen, but said they were now on the rise again.
She said: "Inspection activity has dropped to lower levels while we have been engaged in registering care providers under the new regulatory system required by the Health and Social Care Act 2008. This process has involved assessing all providers to check that they meet essential standards of quality and safety designed to protect people receiving care.
"It is a big job and we had to concentrate our resources accordingly.
"The rate of inspections is now rising again, although it is too early to say at what level it will settle. Our aim is still to review every home at least two-yearly and for the great majority this will involve a site visit. CQC is dedicated to ensuring safe and effective care and does not spend money on systems at the expense of inspections. IT systems exist to support the inspection regime."