Ministers are under growing pressure to ease the heavy workload of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following accusations of poor care and cover-ups
The CQC has been rocked by the revelation that it failed to investigate a spate of baby deaths at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
The Patients Association led calls for change, arguing it had ‘sympathy for the CQC, which, ever since its creation, has been asked to do too much’.
Katherine Murphy, its chief executive, said: ‘To ask one organisation to regulate social care, primary care, dentistry and hospitals is ridiculous and dangerous.
‘Everyone knew it, everyone said it – yet governments did nothing.’
In response to the Morecambe Bay scandal, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the CQC would no longer be responsible for correcting problems – merely for identifying them.
And he hinted the shake-up would apply to other parts of the NHS, as well as hospitals, by referring to ‘other bodies’ that would take on responsibilities.
But the Department of Health (DH) said the CQC would continue to ‘expose poor care and make sure steps are taken to root it out”.
A spokesman said: ‘We now have new leadership at the CQC, which is committed to turning the organisation around and restoring public confidence.
‘Dental practices will continue to be inspected by CQC to make sure high standards of safety and care are maintained.
‘All primary care dental services – both NHS and private – must be registered with the CQC in order to legally practice.
‘Where dental practices do not provide acceptable levels of care, the CQC will use its enforcement powers to protect patients.’
Earlier this year, it was revealed that almost 100 dental practices are now being inspected every week, as the CQC regime got into in full swing.
The watchdog inspected a total of 3,469 surgeries in the first eight-and-a-half months of the 2012-13 financial year.
By parliamentary correspondent Rob Merrick