Who regulates the regulator – part two
In January 2020, we saw troubling reports of flawed reporting processes, with the CQC retracting a not insignificant number of reports due to duplication, necessitating re-inspections to enable providers to have confidence in the CQC’s ratings and findings.
Almost one year on, we revisit the vexed question of how do you regulate an independent self-regulatory body, not least amid a public health emergency?
For services regulated by the CQC, 2020 has two faces as a result of Covid-19. Pre-Covid, the social care sector was, and remains, precariously fragile imploring the need for funding and investment. Since the dawning of Covid-19, these pre-existing problems are exacerbated and the manner in which CQC undertakes its regulatory functions, seemingly changed overnight.
With routine inspections by the CQC paused, inspections have taken place in response to risk and concerns raised. The CQC have utilised a range of intelligence sources, most notably with the development of the Emergency Support Framework.
It is vital to remember that this hiatus in routine inspections is temporary. As the CQC increases the number of physical inspections, the threshold will be crossed more frequently in order to respond to concerns raised whether those concerns are raised by staff, or otherwise. Notably, the number of calls CQC has received from adult social care staff increased by 55% during the period of 2 March 2020 to 31 May 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019. Enforcement action has continued in response to risk based inspections.
January 2021 sees an increasing level of restrictions with the implementation of a third national lockdown in response to new challenges brought by the ongoing pandemic. Routine CQC inspections and enforcement actions continue to remain only for those services with greatest concerns. This, however, is and can only ever be, a temporary measure. In time, routine inspections for all registered service providers undertaking regulated activities will resume.
Whilst concerns of transformation and sustainability have changed in nature and become ever more prevalent, looking forward to 2021 one thing has not changed: it is the providers who regulate the CQC.
Providers more than ever, need to act promptly and engage with the CQC as soon as an issue arises. The CQC’s complaint process has not changed, neither has the mandatory need for a fair and balanced approach to be followed by CQC.
What is changing, potentially, is the manner and route of inspections by CQC. Their current consultation on the future of CQC closes on 4 March 2021. Make sure you have your say, and keep having your say by holding CQC to account.
If, as a Provider, you have concerns as to whether due process has been followed, or consider there to have been a failure to adhere to the principles of the Regulators’ Code, prompt action should be taken.
Social care advice line
For up to 15 minutes of valuable preliminary advice call 01423 724056 quoting ‘social care advice line’ or email firstname.lastname@example.org