Care home inspector arrested over bribery claims


A 43-year-old woman, from Northamptonshire, was sacked from the Care Quality Commission, the health and social care regulator, for gross misconduct after an internal inquiry was launched on information provided by a whistleblower.
It is understood she allegedly pressured care home managers into paying fees for a favourable reports.
It is not known how many care homes are involved or over what time frame.
She has been arrested on suspicion of bribery and money laundering by City of London Police, which specialises in financial crimes.
She is currently being questioned by police as part of an ongoing investigation concerning allegations that proprietors of care homes were being pressurised into paying fees for favourable inspection reports.

They appealed to anyone working within the care home industry who has experienced similar circumstances to contact the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission employs around 712 inspectors, with each holding a portfolio of around 50 organisations including NHS trusts, care homes, learning disability centres, private hospitals and dentists.

The CQC has come under fierce criticism for cutting the number of inspections it carries out as it struggled to register all NHS trusts and care homes under a new regulatory system.

It was set up in April 2009 from the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission.

Louise Guss, Director of Governance and Legal Services at the Care Quality Commission, said: "Our inspectors operate to extremely high standards of integrity and professionalism. Unfortunately, in any large workforce there is a risk that a tiny minority may act in a way that betrays the principles of their colleagues and of the organisation as a whole, which is what has happened here.

“Having investigated allegations made to us about this inspector and found these were substantiated, we terminated their employment with immediate effect and referred the matter to the police.

“This inspector has failed the organisation, failed the providers who rely on us to act fairly and impartially, and - most importantly - failed in their responsibility to protect people who use services through identification of poor care.

“CQC operates a zero tolerance policy in regard to fraudulent or dishonest behaviour. As this case makes clear, we take any credible allegations relating to this behaviour extremely seriously and, following a full investigation, will take the swiftest and most severe action possible against any member of staff found guilty."

A spokesman for the CQC said that all the care homes this person was responsible for have been reinspected and external fraud investigators found no evidence that other inspectors were involved.

The regulator received information from a whistleblower in December last year and called in external fraud investigators.

She was suspended in January and dismissed on March 1st this year.

DI James Clancey, from the City of London Police, said: "We are working closely with CQC to thoroughly investigate these allegations. We are appealing to anyone who may have information linked to these allegations to come forward."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said it was a matter for the CQC.

The CQC issued a special phone number for care providers to report concerns about inspectors on 03000 616161.


Sourced from The Telegraph, 27th April 2012.