Health inspectors spent £50,000 visiting Lancashire

Health watchdogs visiting Lancashire spent more than £50,000 on hotels, travel and meals, an investigation has found.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust in April, reviewing 14 key areas the health and wellbeing services provider is responsible for. It was the first time an organisation of that size had been inspected under a new regime which involves larger teams and interviews with the public.

In total, teams from the CQC spent £4.4m on travel and subsistence in 2014/15 against budget of £1.1m.

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The CQC said the overspend was because the budget was based on a previous, ‘lighter touch’ inspection regime.

A spokesman said: “As CQC regulates health and adult social care services across England, it is necessary for its inspection teams to have to travel and, on occasion, to stay in overnight accommodation.

“CQC’s ‘new-style’ inspections involve larger teams, including specialist inspectors, experts in the field, and members of the public who represent the views of people who use services. They last longer so that more time can be spent in observing the care that is being delivered, in speaking to both people who use services and health and social care professionals, and in feeding back initial findings to the providers so that improvements can be made quickly. We are constantly improving how we work, and we are committed to being an efficient and effective regulator.”

The figures obtained by the Health Service Journal, show the biggest spending was for Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust, where 118 inspectors were accommodated at two hotels over five days for £80,837.