Healthcare briefing – S.31 notices: Beware the fast track
Where the CQC takes civil enforcement action, it will most commonly follow the Notice of Proposal procedure.
However, s.31 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 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) but equally could be a variation of the provider’s registration to remove the location and thus close the unit quickly.
In order to rely upon s.31, 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.
When adopting the s.31 procedure the CQC is required to give notice to the service provider that it is adopting this decision and to notify it of the date from when the notice will take effect.
When the s.31 procedure is adopted, the representation stage that follows a notice of proposal is omitted. Instead the matter goes 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 three days and the Tribunal will hear the appeal within 10 days. That is obviously important as urgent closure decisions need swift resolutions.
Where s.31 is to be utilised it is essential that urgent legal advice is obtained as matters will move very quickly.
For more information or guidance, please contact:
Partner and Head of Healthcare – Providers
T. 020 7227 7282
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.