To lose one social care inspectorate may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness, says The King's Fund

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Responding to the announcement in today's Budget that the Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) will merge by 2008, The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'This is the government's third attempt at creating a social care inspectorate so today's announcement is bound to cause consternation.

'We agree that it makes sense that both health and social care are regulated and inspected consistently, and we also believe that fewer regulators are needed to reduce the burden of inspection on front-line staff. But chopping and changing organisations like this is an expensive and disruptive business and doesn't smack of sensible policy making. What was needed here was a period of stability and lessons will need to be learnt as we are likely to see further changes to the regulatory landscape, with more rationalisation.

'Reorganisations remain a clumsy reform tool that tend to produce a drop in performance, and it takes a new organisation at least two to three years to become established and start to perform as well as its predecessor. We sincerely hope this is not the case here as both the CSCI and Healthcare Commission have an important role in inspecting the NHS and social services.'

Notes to editors

1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

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