Mental health law briefing 184 – CQC compliance action
In our August briefing we referred to the recent CQC guidance on inspections.
This briefing reflects the action that CQC may take if a provider is not meeting the requirements of the regulations.
If the provider is in breach of the regulations in a way that has a minor impact on service users, or where the impact is moderate but the occurrence arises for the first time, CQC will generally use compliance actions. The provider will be required to submit a report/action plan demonstrating how they intend to meet the regulations and the action that is to be taken. CQC will send a template for this with the copy of the final inspection report and specify a time frame (between 7-28 days) for this to be returned to them.
Upon receipt of the report/action plan from the provider, CQC will consider this. They will wish to see that the action plan appears to meet the compliance actions in a robust way. They will also wish to see that actions are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
In preparing the report/action plan, providers should ensure that relevant actions are to be completed within a specific timescale and that there is a clear process to monitor that. It will usually be sensible to make it clear who is responsible for taking and monitoring the appropriate steps. CQC should be notified when these steps have been taken.
Alternatively, CQC may take enforcement action where a breach of regulation is more serious or an earlier compliance action has not been effective. They may also do that if they have not received a report/action plan.
There are a range of enforcement actions available to CQC under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
- Issuing a warning notice requiring improvements within a short period of time
- Restricting the services that the provider can offer
- Stopping admissions into the care service
- Issuing fixed penalty notices
- Suspending or cancelling the service’s registration
CQC enforcement action is considered in detail in their Enforcement Policy (a copy of which may be obtained from the CQC website). In many cases the provider may make representations or appeal the decision to take such enforcement action. Legal advice should therefore be sought urgently in respect of any enforcement action taken. Tight timescales often apply to such representations or appeals.
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Further Health and Safety Fines in Health Sector
Previous briefings have commented on the increase in Health & Safety Executive involvement in healthcare.
Recent cases have highlighted the seriousness of this issue:
- A care home owner was fined £150,000 after allocating a room near a kitchen to a resident suffering from compulsive eating and allowing him to steal food which led him to choke to death.
- An NHS Trust has been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £326,345 costs over the killing of a female care worker by an inappropriately placed resident.
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.