person in a wheelchair being pushed by another person around a garden

This is the final instalment of our three part series on CQC enforcement action. This article covers other enforcement action that can be taken by the CQC.

Authored by Laura Stanley, Solicitor and Helen Wallwork, Head of the Healthcare Sector.

Who Are The CQC And What Do They Do?

The CQC is an independent regulator which regulates health and adult social care service providers in England. They cover a number of different types of service providers including care homes, GPs, hospitals and dentists.

Enforcement Action By The CQC

The CQC is entitled to take enforcement action against any service provider which breaches the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. These powers allow the CQC to protect the public and to ensure that service providers maintain a good level of care.

Requirement Notices

The CQC can issue a Requirement Notice where a registered person is in breach of a regulation, or is shown that they are unable to maintain compliance with regulations. Requirement Notices tend to be issued when the CQC considers that the people using the service are not at immediate risk of harm.

If you receive a Requirement Notice, you will be required to report back to the CQC and set out the action that you propose to take to remedy the situation. If you fail to do this, the CQC will consider other, more serious, enforcement steps.

Changing Conditions of Registration

Registered persons may have conditions attached to their registration. These conditions may include the locations where the regulated activity can be carried on or managed. If the CQC have identified a breach of the Regulations, they can change the conditions of registration as a flexible enforcement option.

For example, the CQC may use a condition to stop a regulated activity at one location but permit the provider to continue providing services at their other locations. Once the issues have been addressed the CQC can remove the condition.

Suspension Of A Registration

The CQC can suspend the registration of a registered person for a specified period. This power tends to be used rarely and only in the most serious cases.

One example of when this power could be used is if the CQC have identified that the breaches are being caused as a result of insufficient and/ or underqualified staff. The CQC may impose a suspension to allow the service provider to recruit and/ or train staff.

The purpose of suspension is to allow service providers an opportunity to meet the necessary standards.

Cancellation Of A Registration

Finally, the CQC has the ability to cancel registrations entirely. The CQC tend to view this as a “last resort” when there have been significant and persistent breaches of the Regulations with minimal improvement.

The CQC will take steps to cancel a registration where service users: –

  1. Have suffered harm or are at risk of harm because a registered person is failing to comply with legal requirements; or
  2. Are receiving care services which substantially fail to meet the standards set out in the regulations.

What To Do If The CQC Is Considering Enforcement Action

If the CQC notifies you that it is considering taking enforcement action against you, we would recommend that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible so that you understand the options available to you and if you can challenge the decision that has been made.

CQC Enforcement Series

Other articles in our CQC Enforcement Series include: