Health & social care

The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of Health & Social Care in England.

Their aim is to monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety.

The primary legislation is the Health & Social Care Act 2008. The key principles contained within this Act have been implemented through the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009 and the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010 and 2014.

In order to provide care and treatment in the Health & Social Care sector it is necessary to be registered with the CQC. It is a criminal offence to deliver care and treatment without registration.

Every registered provider is required to ensure that they meet what are known as fundamental standards which are set out in the Regulations. A failure to do so could result in enforcement action being taken and either civil or criminal (or even a combination of both) measures being taken by the CQC against the service provider.

In order to monitor whether a provider of health and social care is complying with fundamental standards, inspectors employed by the CQC will ask the following 5 key questions of all services:

  • Are they safe?
  • Are they effective?
  • Are they caring?
  • Are they responsive to peoples’ needs?
  • Are they well led?

Having undertaken a review of the service, the CQC will assign a rating which must be publicised on the premises where the service is delivered. The ratings are as follows:

  • Outstanding;
  • Good;
  • Requires improvement; &
  • Inadequate.

Where a rating of inadequate is given then the CQC may use their powers to place the service under special measures.

A failure to meet any of the fundamental standards constitutes a breach of the legislation which is a criminal offence.

Criminal enforcement powers are available to the CQC and are intended to hold a provider to account. They include powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices, issue simple cautions or to bring a prosecution.

The CQC implemented a new Enforcement Policy in April 2015. Enforcement action will be taken in order to:

  • Require improvement;
  • Force improvement; &
  • Hold providers to account.

The CQC have a range of enforcement powers, including:

  • Requirements;
  • Warning Notices;
  • Civil Enforcement Powers;
  • Criminal Enforcement Powers; &
  • Placing providers in special measures.

We have extensive experience of advising clients in relation to all aspects of the law relating to health and social care. We have advised clients on how best to respond to Notices issued by the Care Quality Commission, how to prepare for an interview under caution and have represented clients where they have been subject to criminal proceedings.

If we can assist you in any way, or if you simply want to discuss a regulatory issue, please contact us at any time.