The Health Select Committee reached very different conclusions about Monitor and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as part of its new annual reviews of each major health regulator, published on 14 September 2011.

In its report of the first annual accountability hearing with Monitor, the committee welcomed the strengthened role given to the hospital regulator in the approval and regulation of foundation trusts (FTs) which it felt would safeguard standards for oversight as “an effective regulator of foundation trusts”. The committee emphasised that the approval process for FT status must continue to require high standards despite the pressures of the 2014 deadline for all trusts to become FTs.

The committee noted that greater definition had been given to Monitor’s future role in the NHS until 2016 and planning was already underway for the future in areas such as, the “distress and failure regime of FTs”

It was also agreed that Monitor and the CQC should not merge into one.

The committee’s report on the CQC was extremely critical. The committee commented that the CQC had allowed the deadline for registering dentists to distort its priorities, leading to 70 per cent fewer inspections during the second half of 2010/11 which had increased risk to patients.

The findings of the committee included:  

  • the CQC was established without a sufficiently clear and realistic definition of its priorities and objectives;
  • the timescales and resource implications of the functions of the CQC were not properly analysed;
  • the registration process itself was not properly tested and proven before it was rolled out; and
  • the CQC failed to draw the implications of these failures adequately to the attention of ministers, Parliament and the public.  

In light of these findings, the committee welcomes the Government's decision to “postpone registration of GP practices, and recommends that proper planning, including piloting of the model for registration, should be undertaken before the revised date of April 2013 is confirmed”.