The new private company responsible for inspecting care homes has admitted it does not have enough qualified staff to carry out inspections when it officially takes over the contract on Monday, and some have been postponed as a result.
On 29 January the Independent revealed that hundreds of consultants from the Care Quality Commission were on the brink of quitting or had quit because their new employer Remploy is making them re-apply for their jobs on half the pay.
It has now also emerged that care home consultants - who help ensure the social and health care regulator is able to monitor whether the elderly are being looked after properly - have been told they will only get paid for two hours writing up notes from their inspection – despite many needing more than double that time.
Every month more than 500 “Experts by Experience” are sent on CQC inspections across adult social care, primary care and hospitals. The experts, those with personal experience of care services, play a vital role in the inspection process with their findings often included in the watchdog’s reports.
From 1 February, Remploy, the former Government agency turned for-profit company majority-owned by US outsourcing giant Maximus, takes over their recruitment and management on behalf of the health and social care regulator.
The company had sent a document to the Experts saying inspections lasted between 10 and 30 hours, which included two and three hours of writing up notes respectively. The document also states Remploy planned to cut experts’ pay from £17 per hour to £9.40 in London and £8.25 elsewhere. It has attempted to quell mounting criticism by now offering £15 an hour – but only for the first six months of employment when it will drop to £12.50 for the next six months.
The situation descended into farce last night with neither the CQC nor Remploy able to say what the long-term pay rate of its experts will be or whether a pay rate was agreed when the £7m contract was awarded in December. Both sides said negotiations are continuing.
Just 130 current experts have registered to stay on in their role, a Remploy spokesman said with 400 new experts registering. However, the spokesman said only “dozens” were ready to begin inspections on Monday having gone through the necessary checks.The Remploy experts will be responsible for carrying out around 10,000 annual inspections across London, the South and the North of England – three of the four contract regions previously managed by two charities, Choice Support and Age UK.
Following the report describing a mass exodus, more experts contacted the Independent to confirm they would also be quitting their role.
A spokesman from Remploy said: “We do not anticipate that we will be asking Experts to work overtime. We will continue to work closely with CQC to deliver a successful programme and listen and respond to the feedback from new and existing experts order to continually improve our service.”