Adult social care providers to provide data via a Capacity Tracker or face financial penalties from November 2022!

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of having robust data flows in the adult social care (“ASC”) sector. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Social Care (“DHSC”) had no comprehensive national source of data from providers on capacity, workforce status or numbers of people in receipt of care. The Government, as part of its new health and social care strategy, are set to adopt a data driven approach which they believe will improve transparency and improve the level of care provided. This is outlined in the ‘People at the Heart of Care’ white paper, where access to reliable data is key to underpinning the Government’s ambition for social care reform.

What does this mean for Adult Social Care Providers?

All ASC providers who are regulated by the Care Quality Commission will be subject to the new regulations coming into force in November 2022. From 31 July 2022 the DHSC have mandated a core subset of the data which providers should have already been submitting through the Capacity Tracker (“CT”). The data that will be collated will be in relation to care home bed vacancies, workforce resourcing, and information relating to vaccine intake for both COVID-19 and flu. This will be gathered on a monthly basis. Providers are currently required to update the CT with the required data within a designated 7-day reporting window. This window will open at the start of the 8th day of each month and run until the end of the 14th day of each month, or the next working day where the 14th day falls on a weekend or public holiday. Although the DHSC have been mandating data collection from 31 July 2022, they have not yet started to take enforcement action for non-compliance.  This is to begin in November 2022.

Why are they collecting this information?

The Government is pushing for a data driven approach to tackle the problems with the health and social care sector. Therefore it is integral for them to have quality and timely data available from ASC providers.  It is essential for the following reasons:

  • To support efficient commissioning and systems assurance.
  • Manage national, regional and local risks.
  • Assist with evolving situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ultimately, help to facilitate the care of individuals.

What will the penalties be if providers do not comply?

Specific guidance on enforcement will be published by the Government once the enforcement regulations are made and will be available on the Government’s website once published. However, it is expected to be financial penalties which will normally be a last step. This will only apply where both of the following have occurred:

  • a provider continues to be, or is persistently, in breach of their data obligations.
  • the delivery partner (the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA)) has reached out to offer guidance and support, but the provider is still not sharing their data, and has not made appropriate attempts to do so.

The level of the fines will be the same as a provider’s CQC registration fee which is scaled to the provider type and size. A provider will always be given the opportunity to make representations as to why they have not supplied the required data and why a financial penalty should not be imposed. Even after a final penalty notice is issued, the Government expects that providers may be able to avoid a fine by providing the data required.

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