CQC briefing – S.31 notices: A fast and increasing trend

When CQC civil enforcement action arises this will most commonly follow the Notice of Proposal procedure.

An alternative track is s.31 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008. This provides the CQC with an alternative, speedier procedure to vary or remove a condition on a provider’s registration. This might impose a condition (such as prohibiting admissions) or it could be a variation of the provider’s registration to remove the location and thus close the unit quickly.

For s.31 to apply, the CQC must have reasonable cause to believe that unless it acts under that section, a person will or may be exposed to the risk of harm. Where there is poor quality care this may be easy for them to establish.

When adopting the s.31 procedure the CQC is required to give notice to the service provider that it is making this decision.  The provider will be told of a date from when the s.31 notice will take effect.

When the s.31 procedure is adopted, the representation stage that follows a notice of proposal is omitted. Instead, if the provider objects, it must appeal straight to the First Tier Tribunal.

The First Tier Tribunal adopts a fast track procedure for s.31 cases. Where a provider appeals against an s.31 decision, the CQC is required to respond with its response to the appeal within 3 days and the Tribunal will hear the appeal within 10 days. The case moves quickly as urgent closure decisions need swift resolutions.

In all s.31 cases it is essential that urgent legal advice is obtained as matters will move very fast.


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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