Nick Kempe – 14th October 2022
A public appointment that undermines care regulation and increases private sector influence over care provision
This week the Daily Record revealed that a children’s nursery owned by the new chair of the Care Inspectorate, Doug Moodie, was graded by that agency as weak across the board following an inspection last year. This is quite extraordinary, it’s the equivalent of appointing a failed banker to chair the Bank of England. While the Record story rightly covered some of the conflicts of interests created by the appointment – what must the inspectors involved and the wider Care Inspectorate staff be feeling? – the appointment raises wider issues as well as serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s intentions for a National Care Service.
While almost all care services have their ups and down, and as a consequence Inspection Grades fluctuate, it is rare for the Care Inspectorate to award grades of weak for any services apart from care homes for older people. In May 2021, the month when Mr Moodie’s nursery in Alloa, Kidz World, was awarded four grades of weak there were 3587 services in Scotland registered for Day Care of Children. Of these just 0.6% were graded as weak. Mr Moodie may be chair of the Falkirk Children’s Panel and have been involved in raising money for good causes but in terms of his competence to manage services, he has been responsible for a nursery that was recently evaluated by the regulator he now leads as being one of the worst in Scotland.
With this record, many people will wonder how Mr Moodie had the brass neck to apply for the appointment. You may be even more surprised to learn that the Scottish Government’s response, as quoted in the Record, has been to claim that “Mr Moodie was appointed following an open and transparent recruitment process based on merit.” Did the recruitment panel never question Mr Moodie about his responsibility for what happened at Kidz World last year?
The Inspection Reports for Kidz World contain plenty of information which should have raised concerns about Mr Moodie’s application. As well as grading Kidz World as weak on 21st May 2021, the Care Inspectorate imposed 6 Requirements, legally binding measures for improvement, that had to be met by 12th July 2021. The Inspection Report records that the inspectors spoke to the provider, i.e. Mr Moodie, so he was fully aware of what he needed to do. Despite this, a follow up unannounced inspection in November 2021 found that Mr Moodie, the provider, had failed to meet three out of these six requirements. What message is the Scottish Government giving when it appoints the owner of a business who failed to act on requirements to head up the body responsible for implementing them?
One of the requirements the Care Inspectorate imposed in May 2021 was designed to remedy Kidz World’s failure to implement Covid guidance for children’s services on the use of Personal Protective Equipment, improved ventilation, handwashing and cleaning. It was still not met in November 2021. What does this say about Mr Moodie’s willingness and ability to protect his staff and children using the service?
The official announcement about Mr Moodie’s appointment in August stated “Doug brings entrepreneurial flair from a variety of different businesses he has established, which include early years childcare, property management and private equity focusing on the Pharma, Biotech and Technology sectors to deliver innovative and unique solutions to a wide array of different challenges and medical needs facing society.”
One of those companies, as declared on Mr Moodie’s register of interests, is Careathome.tech Ltd which runs TFY (Time for You) Care Support Service Edinburgh. While Mr Moodie appears to be just one of a number of shareholders in this company , it too was graded as weak on three counts in November 2021 after no less than four inspections in the course of a year, a sign of serious concerns. The Scottish Government’s spokesperson claimed to the Daily Record that Mr Moodie’s interests can be managed and he “will remove himself from discussion on any matters that might be perceived to result in a conflict of interest in relation to his outside interests”. But the truth appears to be that Mr Moodie’s financial interests are affected by everything the Care Inspectorate does, since how inspections are carried out, how grades are awarded and how improvement measures are then implemented all have financial implications for providers and their shareholders. How can he then possibly chair meetings?
As an illustration of those financial interests, even though Mr Moodie has used provisions in the Company’s Act to file abbreviated and unaudited accounts for Kidz World for the year until April 2021, note 5 to the accounts shows that he had loaned £345,340 to his company which is accruing interest at 8% a year. That money is being made on the backs of the 43 staff Mr Moodie, as owner and sole Director of Kidz World, employs and the charges made to the parents of the children that go there.
The message given by this appointment is that the Scottish Government values expertise in business, including the private equity that extracts so much money from care provision, not expertise in care or values that put people before profit. It casts serious doubt that the commitment Nicola Sturgeon made in the Promise, the Scottish Government’s plan for Scotland’s most vulnerable children, to phase out for profit care provision in children’s services will ever be implemented.
In Common Weal’s view, nurseries, like all other forms of care provision, should be free like health care under the new National Care Service. This could be achieved quite easily by requiring all services that are registered with the Care Inspectorate to be not for profit, like foster care is presently. Clearly, there is absolutely no chance of the Care Inspectorate doing anything to articulate the case for that while Mr Moodie is at the helm. Unfortunately, the appointment looks part of a wider agenda to increase, not reduce, private sector involvement in care provision which is also reflected in the Scottish Government’s appointment of KPMG and other consultants to lead on design of the National Care Service.
If Mr Moodie doesn’t resign or the Scottish Government doesn’t remove him, it will be interesting to see if any of the other 13 members of the Care Inspectorate Board offer their resignations. I am sure that would be welcomed by the Care Inspectorate staff whose professional credibility and authority has been so completely undermined by this appointment.