I usually work over the Christmas period as it is quiet and gives me an opportunity to get around lots of our services. The roads are generally quieter too which makes it easier. In the week leading up to Christmas and the week after, I managed to get round 60 services which is about half of CMG.
I really enjoyed it and it reminded me how many great, hard working and committed staff we have. When you are in an organisation, it is easy to take things for granted but I do have to say, that we are very fortunate in having so many really nice people working for us.
Before Christmas I mentioned that we had received a few ‘requires improvement’ inspection reports from CQC which was very disappointing. Since then, all inspection reports we have received have been rated as ‘good’. I would particularly like to congratulate Lucia Elgabry and her team at Cleveland House, who received an inspection report with 4 ‘goods’ and 1 ‘outstanding’ rating. We are challenging this report as we believe it should have at least 2 ‘outstandings’ and be rated as ‘outstanding’ overall.
In previous blogs, I have been complementary about the new CQC rating system. However, I am increasingly having concerns about how CQC differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ services. It does seem quite arbitrary sometimes and I do think that the fact that it is so difficult to get an ‘outstanding’ rating, deters providers from trying, when the goal is so unachievable. I went through the inspection report for Cleveland and in detail with Lucia, the manager, looking at where we could appropriately challenge the contents. I also studied the CQC guidance on what makes an ‘outstanding’ service. In my judgement, the section where we were trying to raise the rating from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ already met the criteria for ‘outstanding’ and should have been rated in that way. There are lots of very good services in CMG, which, in my opinion, deserve to be rated outstanding and we are getting managers demoralised when they don’t get that rating. I have said before, and continue to believe, that there should be a rating of ‘very good’ to properly recognise these services.
On the national scene we are really starting to see the Transforming Care programme gearing up. This is the programme about moving people from assessment and treatment units into community settings. I attended an event before Christmas with commissioners where they were told that they need to work together in transforming care partnerships (there are 49 across England) and that they have to have their initial transforming care plan for their area, ready in draft by February. The air of panic in the room was tangible. I was there with several other provider colleagues and we made it very clear that we are really happy to help in any way, because we want to see people with complex and challenging needs living a good quality of life in the community. Hopefully, the pressure to hit these challenging deadlines will push commissioners into working much more collaboratively with us rather than the very unhelpful and distrustful ‘them and us’ culture that happens all too often with commissioners and providers. Fundamentally we share the same values and want to achieve the same goals. I am a member of the NHS England Provider Forum which has been set up to involve providers in developing the plans for implementing transforming care. It is jointly facilitated by the Local Government Association (LGA). I am very impressed by the open way in which NHS England and LGA have been working with us; they have taken on board our views and we are working in a real spirit of partnership which isn’t something I see as often as I would like these days.