Mental health law briefing 224 – Memorandum of Understanding between Coroners and the CQC
The Coroners’ Society of England and Wales and CQC have recently published a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the exercise of their differing roles. Where a death arises in a service regulated by CQC, there are clearly potentially regulatory issues including the possibility of a prosecution by CQC (with effect from 1st April 2015 if a registered provider’s failure to provide safe care and treatment resulted in avoidable harm or a significant risk of exposure to avoidable harm). CQC may therefore have a clear interest in coroners’ investigations and may wish to investigate themselves to exercise their regulatory powers or prosecute. The Coroner will also investigate for the purposes of an inquest where there is an unnatural death, the cause of death is unknown, or the deceased died whilst in state detention (including detention under the Mental Health Act or subject to DOLs).
The Memorandum of Understanding confirms that CQC will share evidence that it obtains with the Coroner and keep him informed of any criminal investigations. If prosecution is proposed, the Coroner may be asked to adjourn the inquest however, there is a need to bear in mind the time limit for CQC to prosecute (6 months of becoming aware of the relevant information or in any event within 3 years).
Coroners agree to notify CQC of any inquests where there are concerns about the care or treatment in registered settings. Coroners also agree to provide CQC with copies of any Regulation 28 Reports (Prevention of Future Death Reports) and the response to them where concerns about care or treatment by a registered provider have been identified.
Providers should therefore be aware that notification of inquests and production of PFD Reports to CQC may obviously trigger CQC inspections, and thus the risk of regulatory action.
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.