We’ve published guidance today (Tuesday 10 February) on how the 46,000 health and adult social care providers and services across England can meet the Government’s new care regulations.
The new care regulations – called the fundamental standards – will take effect from April, and so it is important that providers across the country know the sorts of things that they can do to make sure they are meeting them and also, how we will use our new enforcement powers when our inspectors find out that people are not receiving the high-quality, safe and compassionate level of care that people deserve.
The guidance on the fundamental standards and our new enforcement policy follow a public consultation that took place last summer to get people’s views. We’ve also published what people told us and what we’ve changed in response to their comments.
A key part of our new enforcement policy is the ability for us to prosecute providers for poor care without having to issue a warning notice first. Up until now, we have had to follow a staged process of enforcement, starting at the bottom of the scale, and so the new policy will allow us to act quickly in response to the seriousness of the concern.
Also today, we have published a Memorandum of Understanding with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities in England, the regulators for work place health and safety, to reflect changes in how safety incidents will be acted upon.
From April, we will begin to be responsible for deciding whether regulatory action is needed for health and safety incidents that involve people who are cared for by services that we regulate. The HSE and local authorities will continue to investigate matters involving workers, visitors and contractors, as well as people receiving care by services that do not need to be registered with us.
Commenting on the regulations guidance and new enforcement policy, David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: “We now inspect services against the five key questions that matter most to people who use them – are they safe, caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs, and well-led. This helps our inspection teams to identify good care.
“When our inspection teams identify poor care, this guidance will help us to determine whether there is a breach in the new regulations and if so, what action to take. In some cases, this will mean we will use our powers to prosecute. We hope this helps providers in their preparations for April and to make sure that their services do not fall below acceptable levels of quality.”
More will follow next month, including guidance on how care homes, general practices, dental surgeries, private hospitals and other services can meet the ‘duty of candour’ and ‘fit and proper person’ requirements for directors. These will oblige providers to be open and honest when things go wrong and hold directors to account when care fails people. The requirements have been in place for NHS trusts since last November.
Also, we expect to publish further guidance next month on how the providers that we rate as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate should prominently display these judgements. This is another requirement that the health and adult social care services that we rate will have to follow from April, to improve transparency and to encourage improvement. We are currently consulting on this advice at the moment, and would encourage people to share their thoughts with us.