Care Quality Commission monitoring deaths in homes

Elderly lady's hand on walking stick An unexpectedly high number of deaths among residents will now trigger an investigation

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Death rates in care and nursing homes in England are to be monitored by the Care Quality Commission to try to identify problems at an earlier stage.

The regulator said it was piloting a system where a high number of deaths would trigger an investigation.

Care homes are required to report to the CQC when a resident dies - but the BBC's Panorama found that some homes had not been doing this.

The regulator has said it will consider sanctions for those that do not comply.

The higher-than-expected number of deaths at two hospitals in Mid Staffordshire pointed to problems of poor care there.

'Rates critical'

A third of care and nursing homes in England do not meet all the necessary standards, according to the Care Quality Commission.

The regulator said it was determined to identify poor care earlier.

As well as introducing specialist inspectors and gathering more information from families and staff, it has told Panorama it will look at death rates in homes.

It is already piloting ways of using the information so that an unexpectedly high number of deaths among residents triggers an investigation.

The CQC is responsible for collecting and analysing data reported by care homes.

Panorama has been given exclusive access to this data and has found large gaps.

Care homes must by law report each death to the CQC when it happens - but Panorama found dozens of deaths in care homes that had reported no deaths to the CQC in 2011-12.

CQC chief executive David Behan said the organisation was now changing to identify poor care earlier.

He said: "We are going to be absolutely clear about what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable, and we're absolutely determined to do this. This is our job to identify where care is not acceptable.

"We also need to identify not just where care is unacceptable but where care is of a high quality."

Panorama - Elderly Care: Condition Critical is on BBC One at 20:30 on Monday

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