On Thursday last week I received notification that on Monday (this week) the Care Quality Commission were coming for a week to inspect Child Safeguarding and Looked After Children’s Health Services. The CQC are the regulators for all health and adult social care services in England. They have previously done these inspections jointly with Ofsted and therefore have included Local Authorities and Children’s’ Social Services in their scope; however, this inspection was just the CQC. Therefore, whilst they did include health services that are commissioned by the Local Authority, their scope to make recommendations for these is limited.
The notification last week initiated a flurry of activity from my CCG colleagues and our providers to prepare for the inspection this week. We needed to provide a range of documents as evidence in advance. We also needed to identify a group of ‘cases’ that met certain criteria to enable the inspectors to see records of and speak to children and families who had used a specific range of services.
This week started with the inspectors meeting with me as the Executive Lead for Safeguarding within the CCG and with our Designated Nurses and Designated Doctor. We agreed the programme for the week with the inspectors aiming to visit as many relevant services as possible to speak to staff, patients, families and to look at records.
The following are the services that they visited:
- Health Visiting
- School Nursing
- Child & Adolescent Mental Health
- Adult Mental Health
- Contraception & Sexual Health
- Drugs & Alcohol
Throughout the week our Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children and I had regular briefings from the inspectors on what they have seen and heard. As a normal part of the inspection process any major issues requiring immediate action are highlighted to commissioners. Throughout the week there have been no major issues that have required immediate action.
Today we got some verbal feedback at the end of the inspection. We will receive a draft report to correct any factual inaccuracies within a couple of weeks. The final report, including any recommendations will then be publicly published. The feedback today was generally positive and in particular, the inspectors were complimentary of the committed and passionate staff who they had met throughout the week.
There were a number of areas highlighted by the inspectors that they will make recommendations on in their report. None of these are issues that we weren’t previously aware of and already taking action of one sort or another on. To follow-up the findings of the report we will ensure that there are robust plans in place to address all of the issues that were raised.
It is fair to say that the process of the inspection was challenging and hard work for a wide range of people across the NHS, the Local Authority and other services involved. The result of this process will be for us to refocus our efforts in the areas identified by the findings of this inspection and to provide the public with assurance of how children are safeguarded and Looked After Children’s health is supported in Luton.