With the impact of Covid-19 taking over our current daily lives, care providers should still be mindful of the regulations and whilst CQC has said it is encouraging everyone to prioritise the protection of life and “act in the best way you see fit”, the regulations still apply and providers should, therefore, exercise some degree of caution in light of CQC’s statement.
Having suspended all routine inspections, CQC will still be undertaking inspections in response to concerns raised, particularly safeguarding concerns and concerns in relation to the health and safety of service users.
In a case last month, CQC attended a home the day after concerns were raised by ambulance crews that a care home had no heating. It was reported that residents had been woken and evacuated from the home in the early hours of the morning due to the safeguarding concerns raised.
Whilst it is not yet clear what enforcement action was taken by CQC, safeguarding concerns such as this will continue to be a priority for CQC whilst also supporting providers to tackle issues raised by Covid-19.
Providers should, therefore, continue to ensure that all safeguarding concerns continue to be reported to safeguarding, CQC and the police as appropriate and that any serious issues, which impact a provider’s ability to provide services are managed and reported as required.
CQC’s enforcement powers are vast and action can be taken to immediately cancel a provider’s registration if the health and safety of service users is at risk. The use of such enforcement powers are not as rare as one may think with CQC often avoiding the need to apply to a magistrate for such an order if a provider has more than one location attached to its registration. In these situations, CQC will simply issue an urgent notice of decision to vary a provider’s registration to remove that location and, whilst there is a mechanism to appeal such a decision, significant damage to the provider’s business is likely to have already occurred. These cases are not always widely publicised, unlike those where service users are forced to move in the middle of the night, but the outcome and impact is invariably the same.
It is clear that some safeguarding concerns are entirely out of the provider’s control and it is often not the incident itself that will cause the greatest concern but rather how the incident is managed by the provider and its staff. Prompt reporting is imperative and will often reassure CQC and other bodies, which can be effective in preventing enforcement and other action.
If further advice is required in respect of any safeguarding concerns or if you are not clear on your reporting responsibilities, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01202 786179 or email online.enquires@LA-Law.com and our specialist healthcare solicitors will be happy to support you.