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Routine inspections suspended in response to coronavirus outbreak

Published:
16 March 2020
Categories:
  • Public

We have written to all registered health and social care providers about how we are adapting our regulatory approach in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The letters, sent to providers today, expand on an update we sent on 4 March. The changes they describe include:

  • stopping routine inspections from today
  • a shift towards other, remote methods to give assurance of safety and quality of care
  • some inspection activity in a small number of cases, for example where there are allegations of abuse
  • giving extra support to registered managers in adult social care

We have sent two versions of the letter – one to adult social care providers and one to healthcare providers. You can read the full text here.


Letter to adult social care providers (Monday 16 March 2020)

Immediate cessation of routine CQC inspections

Dear colleague,

I am writing to update you on changes to our approach to regulation in response to COVID-19.

Our primary objectives during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic will to be to support you to keep people safe during a period of unprecedented pressure on the health and care system.

As a result, we will be stopping inspections from Monday 16 March.

It may be necessary to use some of our inspection powers in a very small number of cases when we have concerns of harm, such as allegations of abuse. However, inspections will not be conducted in their present form during the period of the pandemic. When physical inspections are deemed appropriate, we anticipate having a conversation with the provider before a visit takes place.

We encourage everyone to act in the best interests of the health of the people they serve, with the top priority the protection of life. We encourage you to use your discretion and act in the best way you see fit.

Importantly, we want to act as a support for registered managers - our inspection team will be there to provide advice and guidance to the providers throughout this period, and will be implementing the following:

  • In the absence of a single national oversight body like NHS England for adult social care, we will continue to request Provider Information Returns (PIRs).
  • However we will not penalise providers for the late return of PIRs.
  • In order to reduce your reporting burden we will share the information we collect from you with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.
  • We will use the information gathered from PIRs to inform and influence government and commissioners to provide support and address issues such as workforce challenges.

More than ever, please can you pass my thanks to your dedicated workforce and for your leadership as we pull together during this difficult time to ensure people receive safe care. We will update you further if things change significantly.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Trenholm
Chief Executive

Kate Terroni
Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care


Letter to healthcare providers (Monday 16 March 2020)

Immediate cessation of routine CQC inspections

Dear colleague,

Further to our letter of 4 March, we're writing to update you on CQC's regulatory approach at this difficult time for the sector. Firstly however, we wanted to thank you for the incredible work you and your team are delivering at this challenging time. We are acutely aware of the pressure you are facing and we wanted to thank you for everything you are doing.

Our primary objectives during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic will to be to support you to keep people safe during a period of unprecedented pressure on the health and care system.

As a result, we will be stopping inspections from Monday 16 March.

It may be necessary to still use some of our inspection powers in a very small number of cases when we have clear reports of harm, such as allegations of abuse. However, inspections and Provider Information Requests for health services will not be conducted during the period of the pandemic. We are talking to social care providers about how to most effectively collect information from them to ensure that the Government has a clear picture of social care in the absence of a single national body equivalent to NHS England.

We encourage everyone to act in the best interests of the health of the people they serve, with the top priority the protection of life. We encourage you to use your discretion and act in the best way you see fit. We also wanted to briefly outline what other support we are offering the system. Clinically qualified CQC special advisors have already returned to the frontline to help with the wider national response; we have offered DHSC, Public Health England and NHS England our staff where they have relevant skills and a number have been seconded already; and we expect to be using our customer contact centre to start taking non-clinical COVID-19 calls from next week in support of 111. In addition, we are asking our teams to stand ready to help any other part of the national effort whether that be in the public or private sector.

We hope this reassures you of CQC's commitment to offering the health and care system all the support possible to ensure that people – those who use services and those who work in them – are kept safe during this global health emergency.

We will update you further if things change significantly. Please be assured we will not be doing anything to distract you and your teams from using your discretion in looking after the public and will continue to maintain a focus on the safety of health and social care services through the introduction of an interim methodology for the period of this pandemic.

Of course should you or your team wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Trenholm,
Chief Executive

Prof Ted Baker,
Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Dr Rosie Benneyworth,
Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care

Last updated:
25 March 2020