A week in the life of a Chief Inspector

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission.

First, thank you to everyone who asked after my Mum (see last week’s blog Mum’s Test For Real). She is doing a lot better now, though still a bit tired.

By the end of this week, I will have completed two months at CQC. Lots of people have wondered how it is going and I always say two things — “I love it” and “it’s busy”. So I thought I would shed a little light on that second statement and give you a flavour of a week in the life of a Chief Inspector.


After an early morning pre-recorded interview for BBC Radio Wiltshire (about the idea I’d like to discuss with everyone regarding the potential use of hidden cameras and mystery shoppers to monitor care), last week started with the regular get together with my fellow executive directors.

We grandly call it the Coordination Meeting as we share what is coming up for each of us in the week ahead and any burning issues. Along with the other Chief Inspectors, Mike Richards and Steve Field, I am regularly asked about how we work together and this meeting plays a small part in helping to bring us together as a coherent team.

As Chief Inspectors, we are also executive directors of CQC and our role in the corporate governance and decision-making of the organisation is an important, though to the public eye largely unseen, aspect of our work. A chunk of the day was spent in our Executive Team meeting reviewing performance, risk and finances and considering the next steps in our organisational change programme among other topics.

CQC is transforming from a generic inspection model to building up specialist teams to support each of the Chief Inspectors, which will mean upheaval for lots of people. It is essential that we do this well and support our staff to look forward to the future while continuing to deliver our current activity.


I headed up early to Birmingham to join Mike and Steve speaking at the Chief Nursing Officer’s summit. I was really pleased to have the opportunity to raise the profile of nursing in adult social care services — nurses are an important part of the wider social care team and our sector offers interesting and fulfilling career options for the profession.

We had an interesting debate with Sir Bruce Keogh and Gill Harris from NHS England about the role of regulation in improving quality. It was also lovely to catch up with so many people who I have worked with over the years in social care and in the NHS.

I am very keen to get out and about to see different aspects of CQC’s work so I took the opportunity to join one of our staff to observe a registered manager interview. Let no one kid you that this is a paper exercise that you can wing with minimum preparation.

We know how important the role of the Registered Manager is and the impact managers have on the quality of care so rightly this is a rigorous test. For those of you contemplating applying, our guidance is here and if you are already a Registered Manager you might like to join the network established by the National Skills Academy for Social Care.


I chaired the Market Oversight and Provider Failure Working Group (now there’s a snappy title!) which has been set up by the Department of Health to work with them on the implementation of Care Bill proposals about — you guessed it, market oversight and provider failure.

The Department is at the stage of considering what should go into the regulations and had some tricky issues for the group, which includes leading figures from across the sector, to discuss. We had a really good debate and I hope helped to shape the Department’s approach. I even managed to end it on time!

That evening I went to the National Care Forum Annual Lecture delivered by Jon Rouse, Director General at the Department of Health. Jon was outlining his key principles that underpin social care reform — integration, personalisation, compassion, quality and efficiency.

It was an interesting presentation and the proposals set out in A Fresh Start for the Regulation and Inspection of Adult Social Care featured strongly when he talked about quality. Dinner followed — and as you know, there’s no such thing as a free dinner! Lots of people were very keen to share their thoughts with me about what we should be doing at CQC, which was great to hear.


A speaking engagement day — first the Annual Care Homes and Retirement Living Conference and then the Healthwatch England and Public Involvement Association (HAPIA). Two very different audiences but both were very engaged and interested to know about how the provider market and public involvement will be affected by CQC’s new approach to regulation. I particularly enjoyed the Question and Answer session at the HAPIA meeting.


I co-hosted with David Behan my first road show for staff explaining the progress we are making in the transformation of the CQC, sharing information on the development of the new structures and discussing how these will be implemented. It was a lively session with lots of challenge and positive suggestions. David and I had fun and the feedback seemed to show that staff really appreciated the opportunity to hear what was happening from “the horse’s mouth”, as somebody so delicately put it!

Please Santa!

This has got a bit too long and I haven’t told you everything about the week. But I don’t want to send you to sleep so I’ll stop now. I am sure you’ll understand why a magic carpet to get me around quickly would be my ideal Christmas present!

Originally published at www.cqc.org.uk.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.