CQC acts over care home inspection mix-up

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is clarifying its care home inspection role to officers in the field, after EHN revealed a disagreement over responsibilities between regulators.

From 1 April the CQC was given the duty to safeguard health and safety of care home residents, with local authorities and the HSE retaining a role covering employees.

But following a prosecution of a care home for serious health and safety breaches, undertaken by Wakefield Council under the old regime, aCQC spokesperson told EHN that should a similar ‘generalbreach’ of health and safety would be still referred to councils or the HSE.

This position was contested by Wakefield EHO Helen Atkinson, and a further statement from CQC head of regional engagement Nick Kerswell also contradicted the initial statement.

Mr Kerswell said: ‘We have a wider range of powers (apart from prosecution) which we use to ensure that a provider takes appropriate action when it is in breach of regulations and to ensure that people receive health and social care services of an appropriate standard.

‘We can do this by either requiring or forcing improvement and we will cancel a provider’s registration if that is required. But we can also hold providers and individuals to account for failures in how a service is provided.’

It is now understood that the CQC is distributing a Q&A for its inspectors on EHCnet, a CIEH messaging network, to clarify the details of a memorandum of understanding that carves up responsibilities between councils, the HSE and the CQC.

Geoff Cox, HSE head of public services sector, said it was ‘crystal clear’ that the CQC would be entirely responsible for residents’ health and safety whether there had been an incident or not.
He added that the HSE is helping to disseminate the EHCnet Q&A to CQC inspectors in the field to prevent misunderstandings.

A number of EHOs have raised concerns over the CQC’s ability to effectively carry out health and safety inspections.

In response Mr Kerswell said: ‘We are currently working closely with HSE in particular to help us develop those capabilities through training and through a network of buddies who provide mentor support to our inspectors.

‘We are focusing first on our regional managers and a team of specialised inspectors so that they can advise, cascade training and share their knowledge with their colleagues. The HSE buddies, and our specialised inspectors, are there to provide practical support while we continue to train and develop all of our inspectors.’

Mr Cox added: ‘As part of the overall advice and support package that HSE has agreed to provide to CQC there was a request for some mentoring relationships whereby CQC inspectors would be able to observe at first hand HSE inspectors undertaking investigation work under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

‘This was intended to run in the period prior to the memorandum of understanding coming into effect. In practice, however, due to difficulties with staff availability, less buddying took place than was originally intended.’

Ref: http://www.ehn-online.com/news/article.aspx?id=14336&dm_i=1RSV,3GE83,B873YT,CD95W,1

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