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CQC not yet "an effective regulator".

England’s health watchdog, The Care Quality Commission, is "not yet an effective regulator", MPs say.

Staff shortages, and weaknesses in the consistency, accuracy and timeliness of inspection reports, have been identified as areas of concern by the Public Accounts Committee.

Committee chairwoman, Meg Hillier, said there was an "alarming lack of attention to detail" when reports were prepared.

According to the Public Accounts Committee report, the CQC's inspection programmes for hospitals, primary care and adult social care services in England are all behind schedule.

The committee said that it was concerned by the CQC's ability to respond quickly and effectively to information received from patients, staff and whistle-blowers.

On one occasion an NHS trust told the committee it found more than 200 errors in a draft CQC report, including data inaccuracies.

Ms Hiller said: "This is clearly unacceptable from a public body in which taxpayers are placing their trust."

The cross-party committee also said the regulator had struggled to recruit inspectors and analysts and was "not meeting the trajectory it set itself for completing inspections.”

By April 2015 CQC vacancies were: 34 per cent for inspectors, 36 per cent for senior analysts and 35 per cent for managers. Staff turnover in 2014-15 was nearly eight per cent, higher than the CQC's five per cent target.

And the MPs warned that the CQC was not ready to assume new responsibilities for assessing the efficiency of hospitals in April this year (2016).

Ms Hillier added: "Recruitment is going too slowly, meaning too many members of the public don't have up-to-date independent information about the quality of services provided.

"It is vital the public is clear on what the commission has inspected and when. If the commission is to fulfil its duty, we must see improvements in the way it collects, acts upon and publishes information."

The MPs did acknowledge that the CQC had made "substantial progress" since its previous report into the regulator back in 2012.

CQC chief executive, David Behan, said: "These are not new issues and we have been working hard to improve our performance. We have reported on our progress in public every month and we will continue to do so. “