The Care Inspectorate, the national regulator for care services in Scotland released its quarterly figures last week. The third quarter figures 2019/2020, which include data up to the end of December 2019, indicate that whilst complaints to the regulator are on the rise, enforcement action remains relatively static.
The number of complaints received by the regulator has been gradually on the rise over the past couple of years. By the end of Q3 in 2017/2018, the regulator had received 3458 complaints. By the end of the same period in 2018/2019 there had been 3799 complaints, an increase of just under 10% year on year.
To the end of Q3 in 2019/2020, the regulator has already received 4336 complaints, an increase of just under 15% on the previous year, and nearly 25% over the past two years.
There has not been a corresponding increase in cases of enforcement activity and in fact Q3 2019/2020 numbers for enforcement activity are slightly down on Q3 of 2018/2019. We do not really know why. It could indicate that the regulator is receiving more complaints of little merit or low level which do not warrant regulatory investigation, or enforcement action. On the other hand, it could indicate that the regulator is taking a more lenient approach to enforcement action in response to complaints.
Either way, if complaints continue to increase, care providers can expect to see an increased level of scrutiny from the Care Inspectorate and regulators or government departments who have an interest in the sector, and from the press and the general public.
The figures should serve at the very least as a reminder to care providers to ensure that their own complaints handling policies are in order.
Care providers are expected to have complaints policies and procedures which are robust, transparent and fully accessible to all users of the service (and those involved with it), and expected to keep proper records following any complaint or complaints investigation.
If care providers have any concerns about or need any assistance with complaints policies, investigations or engagement with the Care Inspectorate more generally, please contact Ridouts Professional Services Ltd on 0207 317 0340.