Care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has opened a consultation on its draft guidance on how health and adult social care providers and services in England can meet the government’s new regulations on care and what actions it will take when they fail.
The new regulations, called fundamental standards, are designed to be clearer about the care that people should always expect to receive. The 11 standards were laid before Parliament earlier this month and will come into effect by next April.
They include the new ‘duty of candour’ and the ‘fit and proper persons’ requirements. These will oblige providers to be open and honest when things go wrong and to hold directors to account when care fails people. These two requirements will apply to NHS trusts from October.
Alongside this, CQC is asking for views on how it will use its strengthened enforcement powers, as set out in the Care Act 2014.
These will allow CQC to decide on the most appropriate enforcement action to take when care falls below the required standard rather than starting at the bottom of the scale. This includes CQC being able to prosecute providers without having to issue a warning notice first.
Once finalised, the guidance will help providers to understand how they can meet the new regulations and when they do not, what actions CQC will take.
David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said: “We are consulting on our proposed guidance on how providers can meet the requirements of the new regulations and on how we intend to use our enforcement powers.
“It is essential that CQC uses these new responsibilities well to encourage a culture of openness and to hold providers and directors to account when care fails people.
“We have already started to inspect services against the five key questions that matter most to the people who use them – are they safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs, and well-led. This helps our inspection teams to identify good care.
“Where our inspection teams identify poor care, this guidance will help us to determine whether there is a breach of regulations and if so, what action to take. In some cases, this will mean we will use our powers to prosecute.
“For providers, this will help them to make applications to register or vary their registration with CQC, and to make sure their services do not fall below acceptable levels.”
The consultation ends on Friday October 17.