CQC consults on draft new guidance for regulating services for autistic people and people with a learning disability

The CQC are currently consulting on proposed new guidance for Providers of services to autistic people and people with a learning disability. They have published the draft text of the new guidance, plus a set of case studies, and are seeking views from the sector before these are finalised.

The CQC proposes to issue this new guidance under section 23 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008. Consequently, any Providers who provide relevant services will be required to have regard to guidance, once finalised, to meet their regulatory requirements.

We have encountered a significant number of cases of late where the CQC have relied on their previous guidance “Registering the Right Support” (“RTRS”) to refuse applications to register or vary conditions, or deemed departures from that guidance as a basis for establishing a regulatory. In some cases, this has been erroneously applied and/or too much weight has been placed on it, despite the guidance itself confirming that there is no one size fits all.

The draft new guidance is entitled “Right support, right care, right culture”. The summary to the consultation suggests that this is intended to replace RTRS. However, the draft guidance explicitly states that the CQC’s policy remains unchanged from RTRS and they are simply seeking to clarify to Providers how they implement it. Providers therefore cannot yet assume that the guidance in RTRS will no longer be relevant, or that they will see any significant shift in the CQC’s approach to it.

As the new guidance, once finalised and published, will affect all those who provide services to people with autism or learning difficulties, we encourage those Providers in particular to get involved in the consultation. Providers might, for example, want to consider new draft new guidance and think about how it will apply to the services they provide. If Providers identify that their existing services – or any services they will be seeking to register in the foreseeable future  – might fall foul of the new guidance as it stands in draft form, this is their opportunity to let the CQC know to try and seek changes to the draft text, before the new guidance is finalised and takes effect.

The CQC Citizen Lab portal can be accessed here. Providers (or individuals) who wish to be involved will need to sign up to the portal and can take part in the consultation directly. The Consultation is open until 13 February 2019.

If Providers have any questions or require legal advice relating to the draft guidance, getting involved in the consultation, or CQC matters more generally, please contact Ridouts on 0207 317 0340.