CQC uses new powers to step up enforcement action

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC chief inspector of adult social services.Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC chief inspector of adult social services.

The CQC used new powers to increase enforcement action by 75% in 2016/17, its annual report reveals.

Enforcement actions rose 75% in the year to 1,910 compared with 1,090 in the previous year after the CQC received new powers to prosecute in April 2015.

The CQC carried out its first four prosecutions under its new powers. There were 1,271 enforcement actions in progress as of 31 March 2017. The majority of actions were warning notices (1,352).

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CQC Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, (pictured) told us: “This is not about creating a climate of fear – I would much prefer providers to deliver great care and improve when they don’t.

“But good providers and the public need to feel confident that when poor care is exposed, those responsible are held accountable so we can restore confidence in this vital sector and demonstrate quality does matter.”

A total of 740 providers were placed in Special Measures with 657 exiting. Of those exiting, 470 did so because they had made substantial improvement.

The regulator received 76,634 contacts from people with concerns compared with 80,567 in 2015/16. Of these, 42% (31,826) related to safeguarding concerns, 0.2% (158) were safeguarding alerts, 49% (37,217) were complaints about providers and 10% (7,433) were whistleblowing.

There were 2,353 Mental Health Act complaints with 7,413 total contacts (including new complaints, enquiries and follow-ups to complaints).

The regulator received a further 413 complaints about its service, down from 441 in the previous year. These included the tone and attitude of inspection staff during visits, the general competency of the inspection team around evidence collection, and potential bias and pre-conceived ideas of the service and looking for negatives, as well as administration and the handling of information about registered services.

The CQC commented: “We encourage staff to learn from complaints and in some cases we offer additional training and guidance.”

In its market oversight capacity, the CQC continued to monitor the financial sustainability of large, hard to replace adult social care providers. As of 31 March 2017, there were 51 providers in the scheme.

The CQC said care home providers were more resilient than domiciliary care providers but still experienced an overall decline in profit margins. It highlighted increased staff costs and the National Living Wage as the main pressures on providers.

The CQC’s revenue expenditure amounted to £226.2m in the year, representing a £12.4m decline on the previous year. Income rose by £40.6m to £149.6m following a fees consultation that will see most providers paying the full costs of regulation.

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