CQC’s Emergency Support Framework – not all it’s cracked up to be

I had to chuckle when I read the CQC Emergency Support Framework.   Billed as a supportive process, it would appear to be anything but.

It is however not a laughing matter.  It appears to be a way to gather information about providers outside of the regulatory framework to use against them at a future date.

Your inspector may call you for a “supportive conversation” but only if they think you present a risk.  They will focus on four areas:

  1. Safe care and treatment
  2. Staffing arrangements
  3. Protection from abuse
  4. Assurance processes, monitoring & risk management

CQC says these calls are not:

  • an inspection;
  • going to be used to rate a provider’s performance; or
  • a regulatory process.

However, they will:

  • make a note of what you say;
  • provide you with a note – not of what you said but rather use “appropriate standard wording that reflects your answer”. (What is CQC’s obsession with standardising everything?);
  • not provide you with an opportunity to amend any factual inaccuracies to those words you didn’t actually say (and may not reflect what you said);
  • in exceptional circumstances, ask you to supply them with evidence of risks and issues (so hand over evidence of where you might be breaching the regulations);
  • add the information to their records to inform its regulatory planning during and beyond the pandemic (so will use it to inform future inspection and enforcement activity);
  • take action, if the information you provide causes concerns about risk (so is being used to inform their regulatory process).

CQC says the calls are to support providers to “resolve any issues and make tough decisions to help [providers] to keep people safe” but they will only point you to “relevant sources of support, information and advice” and “share examples of other services good practice and innovative ways they are managing”. 

CQC will not provide advice.  Their own internal guidance on responding to factual accuracy comments says “Do not tell the provider how to do things”.  Their Business Plan 2020-2023 Risk Register notes “If CQC changes its regulatory approach in the pandemic (for instance to support more and enforce less), then re-establishing its traditional role with providers, and our own people, may be a challenge.”

CQC, if you want to gather evidence to use against providers exercise your statutory rights to inspect under section 60; gather evidence under section 63; request information and documents under section 64; or require an explanation under section 65 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Do not pretend that this is for the good of the provider.