In August 2020, CQC introduced specific Infection Prevention Control (“IPC”) inspections. IPC continues to be a current ‘hot topic’ of interest to CQC and it tends to be inspected under Regulation 12 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 and assessed as part of CQC’s key question, ‘Is your service safe?’
Under Regulation 12, care and treatment must be provided in a safe way for service users and providers are responsible for ‘assessing the risk of, and preventing, detecting and controlling the spread of, infections, including those that are health care associated’. The intention of Regulation 12 is to prevent people from receiving unsafe care and treatment and prevent avoidable harm or risk of harm. CQC can prosecute for a breach of Regulation 12 or a breach of part of Regulation 12 if a failure to meet the regulation results in avoidable harm to a person using the service or if a person using the service is exposed to significant risk of harm.
CQC’s report on IPC – November 2020
In November 2020, CQC published a report on ‘How care homes managed infection prevention and control during the coronavirus pandemic 2020’.The report analysed CQC’s IPC inspections and its ‘risked-based’ inspections that took place between 1 August 2020 and 4 September 2020.
Areas of weakness indentified during inspections and contained within the report related to effective use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) and having up-to-date IPC policies in place. We have seen similar issues identified by CQC in recent inspection reports.
Recent CQC inspection reports
We recently assisted a client with producing factual accuracy comments to a draft inspection report where CQC claimed that there had been a breach of Regulation 12 because the inspector witnessed a minor incident where staff were on a break outside of the building and they had removed their face masks and failed to maintain a two metre social distance. Management at the service immediately addressed this issue with staff. We successfully argued on behalf of our client that the threshold for a regulatory breach was not met. If the breach had remained in the inspection report, my client’s rating would have been downgraded from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ which would have had a negative impact on the reputation of the business.
IPC at your service
CQC continues to assess IPC during inspections so it is important to ensure that the following measures are in place at your service:
- Regular COVID-19 testing of staff and service users
- Effective use of PPE
- Effective systems in place to ensure visiting can take place safely
- Safe admissions
- Supporting service users with shielding and social distancing
- IPC staff training
- IPC policies – ensure that they are regularly updated and in line with current COVID-19 guidance
If providers need any advice or assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this article, our specialist solicitors can help. Please contact Ridouts Professional Services Ltd using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0207 317 0340.