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Inquiries into CQC regulation

The terms of reference for the two independent inquiries into the CQC’s regulation of Whorlton Hall are published on the CQC website.

David Noble QSO is commissioned to undertake an independent review into how it dealt with concerns raised by Barry Stanley-Wilkinson in relation to the regulation of Whorlton Hall. The review focuses on concerns raised in the initial draft inspection report prepared in 2015 and how they were addressed through the CQC’s internal processes.

As is widely reported, Mr Stanley Wilkinson noticed a ‘very poor culture’ when he led the 2015 inspection. He noted that his report in respect of Whorlton Hall was the only report he wrote in almost 10 years which hadn’t been published by the CQC.

As providers may also have seen, the various versions of the inspection report were published by the CQC on their website. Each of those reports contains reference to patients having accused staff of bullying and inappropriate behaviour. It was noted that where patients were known to make allegations there were care plans in place for staff with clear protocols to follow. Inspectors noted one care plan advising staff to ignore allegations unless they were repeated without any explanation as to why the patient may be making such allegations and/or how the patient was to be supported. In all four drafts an overall rating of ‘Requires Improvement’ was given.

The findings referred to above were not contained within the published report in which the provider was rated ‘Good’ overall. The report did note, however, that there had been ‘Six incidents related to allegations of verbal or physical abuse of patients by staff members’. The Terms of Reference include, ‘what happened in connection with the draft report’ and ‘what impact decisions made in respect of the draft had on the 2016 inspection’.

Providers may find the comparison document published on the CQC’s website useful.  It offers insight into the manner in which reports are produced and the role of report coaches.

A CQC spokeswoman commented that ‘if an inspection finds evidence of abusive practice, the lead inspector would be expected to take immediate action to protect people. Depending on the nature and severity of the issues identified, these actions could include notifying the police, making a safeguarding referral, or taking urgent enforcement action’. Evidence seen so far suggests that these actions were not taken following the August 2015 inspection.

Wider review

A further wider review of the CQC’s regulation of the service at Whorlton Hall between 2015 and 2019, is to be undertaken by Professor Glynis Murphy. Professor Murphy is a professor of clinical psychology and disability at The Tizard Centre, University of Kent, a leading academic centre working in the field of autism, learning disability and community care. Professor Murphy’s review will include consideration of how regulation of similar services can be improved.

The wider review will make recommendations as to how risk is considered in these settings when planning inspections and inspection methodology and practice in order to increase likelihood of detecting harm or abuse and any other aspects of the regulatory process. Recommendations will be limited to actions which can be taken without requiring change to the legislation.

Full terms of reference for both reviews can be accessed below:


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP 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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