Government Review of Enforcement of Care Homes

On 6 November 2012, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launched a consultation called Focus on Enforcement that asks the adult care homes sector how the enforcement of regulation can be improved.

The press release states:

“This six-week Focus on Improvement consultation starting today is part of an initiative to drive up standards and enable providers to achieve the highest standards of care, while removing confusing bureaucratic requirements that divert carers from meeting the needs of residents.

In addition to making suggestions for improvements to the current enforcement regime, people working in or running adult care homes are also asked to suggest how regulators can better help providers comply with the law, and to highlight where regulation is working well, so that good practice can be replicated across the sector.”  

It covers all regulatory activity undertaken by national regulators (e.g. the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Safety Executive) and local authorities.

It is aimed at how enforcement is delivered, not the underlying legislation.

In particular the consultation will look at the following areas:

  • The extent of overlaps, gaps and coordination between different regulatory regimes affecting care homes.
  • The extent to which compliance and enforcement activity in care homes is: proportionate to the risks it seeks to mitigate; consistent; transparent; and accountable.
  • The requirements placed on providers by the commissioners of care services, and how these link to other regulatory requirements.
  • Whether providers are being subjected to unnecessary pressures and costs by third parties.

This is an important consultation which providers should consider responding to. Importantly it covers not only regulation by CQC or the HSE but “regulation” by commissioners of care services such as local authorities and the NHS.  Safeguarding of adults will also fall into the regulation of care homes exercised by local authorities which frequently is poorly exercised by safeguarding teams.

At Ridouts we come across real issues around the proportionality of enforcement action relative to the risks so it is pleasing that this will be specifically covered by the review.  Furthermore, it is encouraging that the consultation will be looking at how regulators can better help providers comply with the law. All too often we find that regulators refuse to provide guidance saying that it is up to the providers to comply.  That is an unhelpful stance and one that can engender a sense of “them and us”.

You can find the full press release and further details of the consultation at the following links:

Press release: http://news.bis.gov.uk/Press-Releases/Government-to-care-homes-sector-help-us-improve-enforcement-of-regulation-682cc.aspx

Website to receive comments: http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/focusonenforcement/

At the same time, a Healthy Living and Social Care Red Tape Challenge theme has also been launched by the Government, to identify which regulations relating to Public Health, Quality of Care/Mental Health, the NHS and Professional Standards should be either scrapped or improved.  The aim of this is to boost growth and jobs and also make it easier for health professionals to do their jobs effectively without weakening necessary public health safeguards.  It runs until 11 December 2012. Details of this can be found at the following link:

http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/themehome/healthy-living-and-social-care-2/

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