Care Quality Commission (CQC) Law for Doctors
Doctors, GP Practices, Clinics and the CQC
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has responsibility for assessing quality assurance of healthcare providers and establishments in England, for the provision of regulatory oversight of the healthcare sector generally (including GP practices), and for bringing failing healthcare organisations and regulated individuals to account. In some instances CQC might take enforcement action against an organisation to close it down (through emergency and non-emergency statutory procedures) or otherwise remove a regulated individual’s registration, or alternatively use enforcement action in the courts to bring about compliance. Such steps can be harmful to any business or healthcare practitioner (both in reputational risk and the cost of turning things around) and it is important for a doctor to act quickly to safeguard their position before matters escalate.
Doctors and their business interests need to be registered with the CQC if they undertake ‘Regulated Activities’. Regulated activities are listed in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2012. The current list (in England) includes:
- Personal Care
- Accommodation for person who require nursing or personal care
- Accommodation for persons who require treatment for substance misuse
- Accommodation and nursing or personal care in the further education sector
- Treatment of disease, disorder or injury
- Assessment or medical treatment for persons detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
- Surgical procedures
- Diagnostic and screening procedures
- Management of supply of blood and blood-derived products
- Transport services, triage and medical advice provided remotely
- Maternity and midwifery services
- Termination of pregnancies
- Services in slimming clinics
- Nursing care
- Family planning services
For the latest document from CQC on regulated activities, see the CQC publication: The Scope of Registration (2013)
CQC inspects healthcare premises and healthcare provision against nationally agreed standards (in England). Such reports are made public. Reports can have a positive benefit or a negative impact on a care organisation’s ability to function and obtain new business. The published reports may in some circumstances cause reputational damage that is difficult to overcome.
In some instances, CQC may seek to impose a “bed block” on care organisations, or a “medical case block” on organisations providing investigations and treatments, until any identified failings have been remedied. The CQC may also take enforcement action where a care provider fails to implement the compliance requirements that have been identified by CQC Inspectors.
The Care Quality Commission has a number of responsibilities that include the assessment of general care standards and the safety of facilities provided by healthcare professionals and healthcare providers. CQC also has responsibility for ensuring that particular national health and safety regulations are being complied with, for example, IRMER radiation exposure and training protocols, or staff training, or the safety of the immediate care environment appears to have been neglected.
Doctors and Appeals from CQC Decisions
Doctors can appeal CQC decisions to the First Tier Tribunal (Care Standards) within a prescribed period. The time-limits for lodging an appeal can be strict, so doctors must work in good time to lodge their appeal. There are two appeal streams, a faster stream for those cases where the CQC decision has had an immediate impact, and a slower stream for those cases where the CQC intend to take action in the future, unless an appeal is lodged which is successful.
The lawyers at Doctors Defence Service have significant experience of assisting clients with the drafting of submissions (supported by evidence) to the CQC, and challenging cancellation of registration and poor inspections that are considered to be unfair. Our lawyers have experience of the difficulties that individuals and organisations can get into with the CQC, and we can offer advice on the steps that a doctor might take so as to improve their or their organisations relations with the CQC where things appear to have broken down.
Further Reading: CQC Case Law Digests
[For Welsh law, see the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) website.]
For legal advice or legal representation, or to discuss any aspect of Care Quality Commission Law, CQC Enforcement Law, CQC Registrations Law, CQC Notice of Cancellation Law, CQC Appeals Law or CQC Inspections Law, arrange a call back via our Contact Form or call Doctors Defence Service on: 0800 10 88 739