Worked up? Speak up.

Worked up? Speak up.

CQC’s Professor Steve Field asks the public to speak up about care

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care services in England. We make sure health and social care services – including GP surgeries, hospitals, and care homes – provide people with safe, compassionate, high-quality care.

We also produce reports to help people choose care. In most cases, our inspection reports include ratings. There are four ratings that we give to health and social care services: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.

Care for people 65+

There are nearly 9 million people in England over the age of 65, accounting for nearly a fifth of the population. We know that people over 65 may use health and social care services regularly and will be able to tell us about their experiences of care.

According to a recent CQC poll of 2,000 adults in England, only 8% of people aged 65 and over say they are likely to make a formal complaint about a health or social care service. In comparison, more than double (21%) of the general adult population say they are likely to make a formal complaint.

This echoes the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Breaking down the Barriers report which found that people over 65 often worry about the impact complaining might have on their future care and treatment.

As part of our Worked Up? Speak Up campaign we want patients and their carers to speak up and share their experiences of care – both good and bad. By providing us with feedback you will help us improve the overall quality of care in England. Your feedback could also help us prevent poor care happening to others in the future.

Care in GP surgeries

Many people will see their GP on a regular basis, and as Chief Inspector of General Practice, I’m often asked what makes a GP practice outstanding. Along with focusing on the five key questions (is a service safe, effective, caring, responsive, well-led), we will always look at how services are provided for older people.

For example, we recently visited a GP surgery where a patient singing group was held on a monthly basis. The group included patients who were over 60 years old who had chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and memory problems. Carers were also invited to take part. The activity was aimed at improving the mental wellbeing of older patients, along with creating a community for patients and their carers.

We rated this practice outstanding because it went above and beyond to run a service which improves patient’s quality of life.


Our poll found that people over 65 are less likely to complain about their care. If you have experienced or seen poor care, you have a right to feed back or complain to the organisation that provided the care.

By law, all health and social care services must have a procedure for dealing efficiently with complaints. Ask the service for a copy of their complaints procedure. This will tell you who to contact, how they will handle your complaint and how they will learn from it.

Complaining should not affect the care you receive. If you don’t want to make a complaint yourself, you can ask a friend or family member to complain on your behalf.

While the CQC don’t take up formal complaints, we still want you to tell us about your experiences of care. For example, do you have trouble making appointments? Is the service unsafe or unclean? Do you feel that staff don’t listen to you?

How to speak up

For more information, or to share your experiences visit or call us on 03000 616161.

Professor Steve Field has been the Chief Inspector of General Practice at CQC since October 2013. Before joining CQC, he was NHS England’s Deputy National Medical Director, with the lead responsibility for addressing health inequalities. He continues to practice as a GP at Bellevue Medical Centre in Birmingham.

The CQC poll also found:

Nearly a third (29%) of over 65s say they informally complain about health and social care services to family and friends.