The CQC has published its second annual report to Parliament on the state of health and social care in England. In general, the CQC noted that there have been improvements but it stressed that there are areas which it says have not improved fast enough.

Some key observations set out in the report include:  

  • there was a substantial increase in the number of care homes and home care services meeting safe care standards;
  • the quality of care arranged by councils has improved;
  • there is generally greater access to personalised support, through direct payments or personal budgets, but there are regional variations in practice across the country; and
  • the quality of care services operated by councils and the voluntary sector were found to generally be higher than those run by the private sector.

Areas where the CQC has been critical of current practice include observations that:

  • as many as 40 per cent of patients say they were not told what danger signals to watch for after they went home from hospital and 45 per cent report that they did not have enough information about the side effects of medication;
  • mental health commissioners are finding it difficult to balance spending on prevention while funding services for people with high level needs;
  • some mental health services applied security measures in ways that placed unnecessary restriction on autonomy or compromised privacy;
  • there is significant regional variation in the extent to which mental health patients are involved in planning and reviewing their care; and
  • the quality of some mental health inpatient services continued to cause concern, for example where the CQC observed over-occupied inpatient wards, lack of one-to-one work with patients, or unnecessary restrictions of liberty.

Despite highlighting these areas of concern the CQC report urges providers and commissioners not to lose sight of the progress being made. CQC's chair, Dame Jo Williams, said:

"There have been significant improvements in outcomes for people who use services and these services should be congratulated for the work they have done. However, the overall picture is far from perfect and it will be vital for all parts of the health and social care system to continue this upward trend and consolidate the best of what has worked well for people who use services.

We hope that in the future, service providers and commissioners don’t lose sight of the good work that has already been done. The truly good care is care that is centred around the individual and tailored to their needs."