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Responding to CQC Enforcement Action

Many health and social care providers will have noticed that CQC appear to be taking a tougher approach to regulation, and in particular, enforcement. For example, there has been a recent flurry of fixed penalty notices served on providers without a registered manager in place.

Some may suspect that this approach has its genesis in the criticism engendered as a result of recent well publicised cases where CQC have been criticised, such as Mid Staffordshire and Winterbourne View. It is obviously impossible to know whether that is the case.

CQC guidance on enforcement policy clearly sets out the enforcement escalator, and the steps that CQC envisage taking where they identify non-compliance.

The origin of enforcement action is usually the CQC inspection report. It is therefore important that providers review the draft report carefully, and respond with any factual inaccuracies where changes are required. It is also important that a clear action plan is put in place, and that this is implemented by the planned implementation date.

The same applies to warning notices. Inaccuracies should be addressed with CQC, and a clear action plan put in place. If it turns out to be impossible to implement this by the anticipated date, CQC should be informed. The date should not simply be allowed to pass.

CQC have a range of enforcement actions available to them if a Warning Notice is not complied with, namely:

Criminal Law

  1. Fixed Penalty Notice
  2. Simple Caution
  3. Prosecution

Civil Enforcement

  1. Variation / removal / imposition of condition(s) of registration
  2. Urgent variation/removal/imposition of condition(s) of registration
  3. Suspension of registration
  4. Extend a period of suspension of registration
  5. Urgent suspension of registration/extension of suspension
  6. Cancellation of registration
  7. Urgent cancellation of registration

The last two civil enforcement actions clearly amount in effect to a power to close the unit.

The use and implication of each of these actions varies considerably, and it is important to obtain legal advice at an early stage so that there is sufficient time to deal with the issues, and avoid the ultimate sanction of CQC taking steps to close down the unit.

RadcliffesLeBrasseur have significant experience in dealing with regulatory enforcement action, and can therefore advise on the appropriate steps to take and the potential implications for the provider.

Andrew Parsons

t: 020 7227 7282
January 2014

© RadcliffesLeBrasseur

Monitor Licence

Those providing NHS Services with a turnover in excess of £10 million will need to obtain an additional Licence from April 2014: This is when the requirement for a Monitor Licence comes into force. Currently those who provide NHS continuing healthcare or NHS funded nursing care are excluded but with effect from 31st March 2015, that exclusion will come to an end and Monitor Licences will be required. Monitor Licences will therefore now be required by some care homes from that date.


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