CQC Complaints

They may be your regulator, but that doesn’t stop you complaining about their conduct

The CQC and its inspectors should treat you, your staff and your clients with courtesy and respect.

If they don’t – complain! Send an email to complaints@cqc.org.uk.

The CQC will only find out about a rogue inspector if you tell them, so make sure you do!

The CQC has a separate Customer Services Team who can and will investigate inappropriate conduct and will take action where required. You do need to make sure you have evidence though and make your complaint in a timely way.

If you, your staff, or your clients feel at the end of an inspection day that you’ve had more than just a tough inspection, make sure you take contemporaneous notes or witness statements that record straight away how the process made you feel, or what the inspector said or did that you felt was inappropriate or made you feel uncomfortable.

Send that information to the CQC complaints team. They will come back to you and often ask more detailed questions, but they will put those complaints to the inspector (where appropriate) and it can result in an inspector being moved from your area, being required to attend re-training and can impact on the outcome of your inspection report, particularly if their conduct meant the
inspection became biased.

Most inspection teams are skilled and professional and hopefully you never do have cause to complain. But just as your clients are encouraged to complain to the CQC about you if you are in the wrong, make sure you do the same with the regulator!

A complaint can go hand in hand, or even be a precursor to a Factual Accuracy Response. It can carry significant weight if made straightaway after an inspection, before the draft report is even produced, as it sits as a separate, true reflection of feelings on the day, without having any clear indication of what a report might say, and certainly cannot be perceived as sour grapes for getting a report that is below what you might have expected.

Poor inspectors produce poor reports. An inspector with a fixed agenda, whether that be based on vexatious comments or feedback from disgruntled ex-employees, families or a health or social care professional, can set an entire inspection off on the wrong foot, with an inspector who is looking for deficiencies and losing sight of evidence of good practice.

No one is perfect. No provider is perfect and no inspector or inspection team is perfect.

The inspection day(s) should feel challenging.

You and your staff should be prepared to justify your actions, your policies and your procedures. But the inspection is still supposed to be a fair reflection of your service as delivered on the day of
inspection.

When submitting your Factual Accuracy Response make sure you include the fact that you have made a complaint about the inspector or the inspection team and send a copy of that complaint and your statements in with the Factual Accuracy submission. The Factual Accuracy process requires an internal CQC manager, independent to your inspection team, to review submissions prior to finalisation of the report, and a timely complaint can cause them to pause and take stock of the inspection regime.

Don’t worry about whether making a complaint will impact on your service and report. Not making a complaint and feeling that the inspection process and report is unjust will have a far greater impact on your organisation and staff, than a feeling that you have “fallen out” with your local inspector. The CQC can and should change your nominated contact for your service going forward if the relationship has truly broken down.

Adult Social Care Inspectors have, on the whole, come from the same background as providers. Most are excellent and supportive and will work with you to continually strive to improve your service but a bad inspector can be deeply damaging to staff moral and to the reputation of your service so do utilise the complaints process and don’t accept bullying and inappropriate conduct as part of the inspection regime.

The newsbrief is available in full here.

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