Any person (individual, partnership or organisation) providing a regulated activity in England must be registered with CQC. Completing registration application forms can be quite an onerous task. Providers are required to complete a comprehensive application form detailing the kind of service that they wish to provide, where it will be provided and who will be the registered manager, amongst other things. The application process can be quite overwhelming particularly in respect of adult services, when a provider wants to operate from multiple locations.
As with everything, preparation is key. Before completing CQC registration forms, it is important to understand the commercial structure of your business as different structures (such as partnerships and limited companies) have different legal implications. At Ridouts, we can help providers to understand some of these implications.
By law, health and social care providers in England are required to register with CQC for each of the regulated activities that are carried out. Regulated activities are listed in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. Not all regulated activities will be relevant to the service being provided, so providers need to carefully determine which ones are relevant to the service they are providing. Providers also need to provide details of the locations where the regulated activities will be carried out. Again, this is something that the team at Ridouts can assist with.
What happens when a provider submits its registration application forms?
Once providers have submitted their registration application, CQC will review it and check for missing documents or incomplete information. CQC calls this process ‘validation’ and in its guidance for providers last updated in March 2021, it states that, “If your application is incomplete or is invalid for some other reason, then it will be rejected (i.e. returned to you) with a letter explaining why.” The validation process is usually completed within five working days of CQC receiving the registration application.
CQC then considers the provider’s registration application and either issues a Notice of Decision (“NOD”) to register or a Notice of Proposal (“NOP”) to refuse registration.
What happens if CQC refuses a registration application?
CQC might issue a NOP if it considers that the requirements of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 will not be complied with. For example, concerns might relate to staffing arrangements or the layout of the proposed premises.
If a provider is issued with a NOP it does not mean that this is the end of the journey. A NOP is only a proposal to refuse registration and providers have 28 calendar days in which to make written representations to CQC setting out why the NOP should be withdrawn and registration granted.
Once CQC has considered a provider’s NOP representations it will notify the provider of its decision and issue a NOD. If CQC upholds the NOP and refuses to grant registration, providers have the right to appeal to the first-tier tribunal.
Ridouts can assist providers with drafting representations to a NOP and appealing a NOD and has vast experience of doing this.
There are various difficulties that can arise in relation to CQC registration including whether a service should be registered in the first place.
Due to the advancements in technology, more digital healthcare providers are entering the health and social care sector but this is still a relatively new area and so the issue of CQC registration can be complex.
It is a criminal offence to carry out a regulated activity without being registered with CQC under Section 10(1) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008. This offence can be dealt with by the Magistrates or Crown Court and if found guilty, the court can impose an unlimited fine or imprisonment of up to 12 months (or both).
If a provider realises that they have inadvertently been carrying out a regulated activity without being registered, they should stop providing services and seek specialist legal advice immediately. Taking action quickly to address the issue can help to mitigate against potential criminal enforcement action or prosecution by CQC.
This article sets out the reasons why it is important for providers to determine if they require registration with CQC. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a regulated activity is being carried out and therefore if CQC registration is necessary. Advice from specialist lawyers can assist with this and help protect providers from prosecution or imprisonment.
At Ridouts we have wide experience in preparing a service for registration and are able to help negotiate the maze of regulation by supporting you every step of the way. If providers need any advice or assistance please contact us using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0207 317 0340.