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CQC fines Darlington care home £4,000 for failure to meet medication regulations

19 December 2012

A care provider which failed persistently to comply with national standards on the safe management of medicines has been issued with a fine of £4,000 by the Care Quality Commission.

CQC issued the fixed penalty notice to St Martin’s Care Ltd after inspectors found that concerns which had been identified on inspection at Willow Green Residential Care Home, Darlington, County Durham had not been addressed properly for three months. Willow Green is registered as a nursing home with accommodation for up to 63 people.

The registered provider, St Martin’s Care Ltd, had been told that it was facing legal action after two unannounced inspections in February 2012. At the time, inspectors found that the nursing home was failing to ensure that people were protected against the risks associated with the unsafe use and management of medicines. The provider was told that it must make urgent improvements.

When inspectors returned unannounced in May, they found that people were still at risk. While the home had made some improvements, the provider still did not have appropriate arrangements in place to manage medicines.

People still did not have all their medicines at the times they needed them in a safe way. Some people were not able to be given their medicines as prescribed because the medication was out of stock. Records were inaccurate or incomplete, medicines were not always given to people appropriately, and staff had failed to follow the directions of the prescriber or the manufacturer.

Subsequently CQC issued a fixed penalty notice, which the provider has accepted and paid.

Following CQC’s intervention, St Martin’s Care Ltd has now taken action to achieve compliance. A report of its latest inspection, in November, has been published on the CQC website.

Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC’s director in the North said:

“It is a provider’s legal duty to ensure that it has appropriate arrangements in place to manage medicines in a safe way.

“Earlier this year we received concerns about the safe management of medication at Willow Green. In response, we inspected the home and warned St Martin’s Care that they must make urgent improvements.

“It was a matter of great concern that three months later we found that residents of Willow Green were still not receiving medication properly, in line with legal requirements.

“The law sets out national standards that everyone who uses services should be able to expect. Providers have a duty to ensure they meet these standards. Our decision to fine this provider sends a clear and public message that persistent failure to meet national standards will not be tolerated.

“Although the provider has now taken action to achieve compliance, we will keep Willow Green under review to ensure that the improvements we have found in our most recent inspection are sustained. We will not hesitate to take further action if necessary to ensure residents receive the service they are entitled to expect.”

Ends

For further information please contact the CQC Regional Communications Team, David Fryer 07901 514 220 or Kirstin Hannaford 0191 233 3629.

The CQC press office can be contacted on 0207 448 9401 or out of hours on 07917 232 143

Notes to editors

CQC has issued a fixed penalty notice to St Martin’s Care Ltd, for its failure to meet:

  • Regulation 13 Health and Social Care Act (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010, Management and administration of medicines.

Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, CQC can serve a penalty notice when a registered person has failed to comply with certain requirements of the Act or regulations, and we consider that swiftly achieving compliance without beginning lengthy and costly proceedings is a realistic alternative to prosecution.

Any fixed penalty paid to CQC under section 86 of the Act must be repaid by CQC to the Secretary of State. The legal requirements and associated fines are set out in CQC's Enforcement policy which you can read below.

CQC has a range of enforcement powers which include restricting the services that a provider can offer, or, in the most serious cases, suspending or cancelling a service. CQC can also issue financial penalty notices and cautions or prosecute the provider for failing to meet essential standards. Any regulatory decision that CQC takes is open to challenge by a registered person through a variety of internal and external appeal processes.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.