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02nd October 2020

Inspections Resume – CQC Transitional Regulatory Approach (Last update: 02.10.20)

CQC have announced how they will monitor and regulate providers in the coming months:

  • The Emergency Support Framework (ESF), introduced in May 2020, enabled CQC to adapt its regulatory approach and focus on services where there were deemed to be immediate risks.
  • CQC is now unlikely to return to the previous frequency of inspections but will widen the scope of who they inspect to include services where there is evidence that care needs to be improved.
  • CQC’s new Transitional Regulatory Approach will cover more issues than the ESF. It will build on the existing KLOEs with a focus on: safety, access, leadership and cultures that drive improvement. Currently, their approach lacks clear specifics. An overview published by CQC’s heads of regulation is available here.
  • CQC will not return to their standard timetable for inspections any time soon. They will use information gathered during routine monitoring, try to ensure that people’s views are heard, and are carrying out a pilot project in social care to explore new ways of gathering evidence without crossing services’ thresholds. What this means in terms of methodologies and ratings remains unclear. If all five domains are not inspected, then ratings may not change. You may be saddled with ratings of requires improvement longer than a year. There may also be no specified methodology for challenging CQC’s findings. We will be watching these issues as they develop.
  • CQC’s longer term strategy is to develop a more system-led approach to regulation and work in new ways, adapting to the ever-changing landscape. CQC will launch a further new strategy in May 2021 based on four themes:
    - Meeting people’s needs
    - Promoting safe care
    - Smarter regulation
    - Driving and supporting improvement
  • There will be a full consultation about this in January 2021. Providers and care associations should engage with this to ensure their rights are not eroded.

Elsewhere, the Government has indicated that it may give CQC more teeth to ensure that the movement of staff between services is curtailed, as set out in its Adult Social Care Winter Plan, stating in a press release on 18/09/20 that:

“The government is prepared to strengthen monitoring and regulation by local authorities and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), including asking them to take strong action where improvement is required or staff movement is not being restricted. This can include restricting a service’s operation, issuing warning notices or placing conditions on a provider’s registration. Further details of how the winter plan will be enforced will be set out shortly.”

It remains to be seen how this will play out over the winter. There are already reasons to ensure that your infection control procedures are in line with the latest guidance and followed to the letter by staff, including the need to keep people safe, insurer’s requirements and the threat of potential negligence claims. Additional powers for CQC are simply one more reason to ensure that your infection control procedures are followed with military precision.

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Royds Withy King

RWK are a Top 100 Law Firm with a specialist Health and Social Care Team with 4 principal offices in Bath, London, Oxford and Swindon. Royds Withy King specialise in providing expert, cost-effective advice to care providers, care home operators, dentists, pharmacists and GPs. Including but not limited to buying, selling and developing care businesses; employment law and HR issues; CQC registration and enforcement; fees and funding; development and construction, refinancing, safeguarding and inquests.

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