The CQC has suspended routine inspections and are no longer requiring providers to complete Provider Information Requests (PIRS). However, in order for the CQC to continue its regulatory function it has introduced the Emergency Support Framework (ESF). The framework considers a wealth of information and intelligence, including information from:
- NHS Capacity Tracker
- ‘Update CQC on the impact of COVID-19’ – daily online form for home care providers
- Statutory notifications
- Safeguarding incidents
- Whistleblowing information
- Give Feedback on Care – information received from people who use services
- Healthwatch survey themes
- Conversations with local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and advocacy organisations
Providers not only report to the CQC but also to their local authority and at this time may be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information they are being required to submit. The CQC has said that it is conscious about the duplication of conversations providers are having with stakeholders, and therefore have developed a joint statement with ADASS on how information will be treated.
The CQC and ADASS joint statement on CQC’s Emergency support framework provides the following assurances:
- The CQC will share relevant information with the DASS or their delegate, who will do likewise.
- If conversations with providers reveal an urgent situation there will be an immediate conversation between CQC, the DASS and the provider concerned. Regular discussions (at least weekly) will take place between the CQC representative and the DASS to take an overview of safety, safeguarding and other key issues.
- Where concerns arise through the ESF, the CQC will feed these through to ADASS regional chairs and regional staff via Regional Incident Centres.
- To avoid overloading providers with too many information requests over a short period, where practicable, regional CQC managers will inform local authorities of the assessments planned for their area; frequency to be agreed locally.
- The CQC will share an overview of its findings at the local system level with local authorities. This will include best practice alongside any trends and other information at a systems level that is deemed useful to understanding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The CQC will also use information gathered as part of its ‘independent voice’ work, such as its State of Care publication.
Providers may be aware that at the end of an ESF conversation with an inspector, the CQC will send the provider an email with a summary of that conversation. Whilst the CQC will share concerns with local authorities about specific services, trends and themes, as described above; the CQC will not be sharing the ESF summary report with local authorities or putting it on its website. Providers can share the report with the local authority if they wish to, particularly if there is overlap with information that the local authority are asking for, or if they want or need to ask for help.
The joint statement provides some level of assurance that information will be shared between the CQC and local authorities. However, the only way to avoid duplication is for the provider to be informed when information has been shared. It appears that the onus will still be on the provider to share the information with both bodies. It most likely will be up to the Provider to check that the local authority has been made aware of information gathered by the CQC and vice versa, which is work in itself. Without transparency between all players – the CQC, the local authority and the provider, duplication cannot be avoided.