33% increase in criminal enforcement actions against care providers
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is increasingly using its civil and criminal enforcement powers rather than its regulatory power to hold care providers to account often over minor incidents, says law firm Royds Withy King.
Data published by the CQC over the summer reports a 33% rise in criminal and a 16% rise in civil enforcement actions against care providers. This sits alongside 20% fewer warning notices being issued on the previous year.
Mei-Ling Huang, a Partner in the Social Care team at the law firm Royds Withy King comments:
“The CQC appears to be adopting an increasingly heavy-handed and threatening approach to sanctioning care providers, often for very minor offenses that in previous years would have fallen under its regulatory powers.
“We have seen, for example, the CQC threatening legal action against a care home that had not been able to register a new manager within the required six-month window. Where there had been a minor administrative oversight, the CQC threatened to impose substantial fines. Unfortunately, we have seen numerous similar cases.”
“The CQC knows there is a lack of registered managers, yet, ironically, the demands CQC places on them has actively dissuaded individuals from applying for or has caused them to step down from the role.”
Royds Withy King believes the CQC is attempting to send a strong message to care providers that it is a regulator with teeth and that it is not afraid to use them.
Mei-Ling adds: “There are, of course, examples where the CQC really does need to act, particularly when protecting vulnerable individuals, but we would question this overly-aggressive stance when in many cases the use of its regulatory powers would suffice.
“The CQC needs to work with care providers to help them with the challenges they face, rather than causing unnecessary panic.”