CQC publishes Special Measures proposals
– closing date for consultation comments:
Friday, January 30th
By Lester Aldridge solicitor PETER GROSE
At the end of December 2014 CQC released its long awaited proposals for special measures. The proposals will have a significant impact for all registered providers. It will be all too easy to enter special measures and risk cancellation of registration. The keys points are as follows:
- Entry point of special measures: When CQC carries out a comprehensive inspection against the five “key questions” (ie is the service safe, caring, responsive, effective and well led?) and two of those key questions are rated as Inadequate, CQC says that not only will the entire service be rated as Inadequate but this will also result in immediate entry into the special measures process.
- Special measures can be entered even if a comprehensive inspection results in only one of the key questions being rated Inadequate. For example, a service might well have an overall ‘Requires Improvement’ rating following a comprehensive inspection but have a rating of inadequate against just one of the key questions. Where this happens, CQC will carry out a further focused inspection after six months and if this shows the key question to be still rated Inadequate then special measures will automatically follow.
What are the immediate consequences of special measures? CQC says it will “signpost providers to potential improvement agency support (where they exist) and monitor progress against their plans. The onus is on the service to resolve the issues of concern”. CQC is silent on what exactly “potential improvement agency support” is. Will CQC for example have an approved list of potential care home consultants, lawyers and other specialists or will this be left to the individual discretion of inspectors?
It is significant that CQC says that when a service is placed into special measures CQC will “liaise with the local authority and the CCG so that they can begin planning for service continuity (if they are not doing so already)”. Such notification will almost certainly result in a contractual embargo which might make improvements that much more difficult to achieve.
How long will special measures last? CQC says the process will usually be limited to a period of six months, following which there will be a further comprehensive inspection. At this stage there will be three possible options: (a) If there are no inadequate ratings remaining, the provider comes out of special measures; (b) If there is sufficient improvement made, the provider “may be given an additional six months to improve”; (c) If there is insufficient improvement, CQC will issue a Notice of Proposal to Cancel Registration.
CQC intends that special measures be introduced in April 2015 and has invited views on the above proposals to be submitted online by Friday 30th January 2015 at www.cqc.org.uk/content/cqcs-proposals-special-measures-adult-social-care. This will help form a draft special measures policy which CQC says will be issued in February 2015, with the final policy being issued in March 2015.