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Leaked CQC survey reveals ‘bruising’ impact of inspection overhaul on staff

Published on: 23 Nov 2022

Leaked results from a recent survey of Care Quality Commission staff have revealed a dramatic drop in staff confidence in both the organisation and its strategic direction, with further concerns raised about changes being made to its inspection regime.

The People Pulse Survey ran during September and October 2022 and focussed on the CQC’s “organisational culture”, with questions structured around staff wellbeing, confidence, trust and empowerment. Findings were shared with staff this week and have been seen by HSJ.

The results – collected from more than 2,000 people – pointed to a broadly unhappy workforce, with only 37 per cent agreeing their employer supports their health and wellbeing, a fall from around two-thirds of staff agreeing with the same statement last year.

Also only 37 per cent of staff overall said they would recommend the CQC as a place to work. 

There were sharp drops in staff agreeing they work in an “inclusive environment where individual differences are valued” (76 per cent last year to 53 per cent this year) and the share who feel they are happy to challenge the way things are done (dropping from 49 per cent to just 29 per cent this year).

Questions relating to workforce confidence in the regulator and its direction also yielded a particularly concerning set of results. Just a fifth of CQC staff agreed they felt informed about changes happening as part of its transformation programme, and that they felt positive about its strategic direction (falling from 54 per cent and 45 per cent respectively when compared to last year).

The regulator’s transformation programme was launched last year and involves a move from a “set schedule of inspections to a more flexible, targeted approach”, with greater use of data. Its main staff survey, published earlier this year, pointed to staff concerns about this strategy, but did see an improvement overall since 2019.

According to this most recent People Pulse survey, staff working in “operations” – who make up more than half of all survey respondents – reported the worst results by far with drops across nearly every key measure.

However, the CQC’s other staff groups  –  including “technology, data and insight”, the only team which has already fully gone through the transformation programme  –  reported an improvement from last year on numerous measures.

A high percentage of staff in the other teams felt trusted to carry out their jobs and agreed they were given opportunities to use their initiative.

Ian Trenholm, CQC chief executive, said he was sorry the transformation process had been “bruising” for some of its staff and described change of any sort as “challenging”.

Mr Trenholm said: “The results of this survey don’t make for easy reading, but I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete it and I want them to know that their responses will be heard and acted upon.

“We’re in the process of creating an advisory group of colleagues from across the organisation to address the issues raised in the survey and work with leaders to identify the priority areas for improvement – as well as to make sure that there is learning from teams with more positive scores who have already been through the change process.”

A few months ago the CQC announced it had trigged an internal review into how it responds when given “information of concern”, along with a barrister-led review into a high-profile whistleblowing case.