Government's under-fire health watchdog seeks help

The Government's under-fire health and social care watchdog has taken the unusual step of launching a search for a public affairs agency after a raft of negative publicity.

Caught on camera: Maria Worroll was filmed being assaulted
Caught on camera: Maria Worroll was filmed being assaulted

The Care Quality Commission, which is funded through registration schemes but also government grant-in-aid, is seeking to hire public affairs support to lobby the Government.

The news that the commission is looking to strengthen its lobbying firepower came after it was criticised last week for failing to take sufficient action following the BBC's undercover filming in Panorama of an 80-year-old woman being slapped by a care worker.

Jane Worroll secretly filmed her mother's room in Ash Court, north London.

Before the assault, the commission had rated the home as 'excellent'.

The quango's brief outlined its need for an agency to provide 'corporate counsel to the range of comms needs, relating to the strategic plan, tactical advice to support its delivery and strategic input into stakeholder management'.

The brief also called for an agency to provide ad hoc support and coaching to the public affairs team, while gathering information from political, governmental and 'other relevant audiences'.

The revelations about Ash Court came after the commission's chief executive Cynthia Bower resigned in February.

She was blamed for a series of regulatory failings including the oversight of Stafford Hospital that led to the deaths of patients and an abuse scandal at the Winterbourne View residential hospital in Bristol.

The quango, which was established in 2009, is the official watchdog for health and social care services in England, including abortion clinics. In the three years since its inception, the commission has faced sustained criticism about its performance.

The deadline for agency tenders closed at the end of March but it is thought the commission has yet to appoint an agency.

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