Caroline Barker

Caroline has specialised in regulatory health and social care law since qualifying in 2005. She provides legal, operational and strategic advice to health and social care providers and provides a range of advice on matters that face providers on a day to day basis.

Caroline is also the firm’s Chief Operating Officer. She is committed to providing clients with a quality experience which meets their commercial needs.

Caroline has extensive experience of drafting responses to both CQC and Ofsted inspection reports with many successes in securing changes to reports. She has experience of challenging regulator enforcement action and the appeal process against regulator proposals and decisions, from the representation stage through to appeals to the First-Tier Tribunal. Caroline has advised providers who face Serious Case Review proceedings and Safeguarding Adult Reviews following a death and/or serious neglect of a child or adult in their care and provides advice and legal opinions on the acquisition and divestment of health and social care businesses including care homes, children’s homes and residential special schools.

Caroline produces persuasive, evidence-based arguments within short deadlines and in turn achieves excellent results for clients. Caroline has strong analytical skills and an eye for detail with the ability to manage document-heavy, detail driven investigations.

Caroline has an MBA from City University’s Business School and is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honour society, after being awarded a final degree mark in the top 10% of those on her course.

Adult Social Care

  • Advising on and challenging CQC inspection reports and judgements made; Warning Notices; Notices of Proposal to cancel, suspend or vary conditions of registration; Appealing Notices of Decision (section 30 and section 31) to the First Tier Tribunal; responding to section 64 requests.
  • Advising on and challenging potential CQC prosecutions, including writing PACE position statements.
  • Working closely with media colleagues regarding press coverage and press releases regarding client matters.
  • Attendance at safeguarding meetings and liaising with local authorities regarding such matters.
  • Challenging local authorities withholding fees from providers.
  • Preparing witness statements on behalf of providers for submission to the Coroner’s court.

Children’s social care

  • Advising on and challenging Ofsted inspection reports and judgements for children’s homes, boarding schools, and residential special schools.
  • Advising on and challenging Compliance Notices; Restriction of Accommodation Notices and Notices of Proposal to cancel registration.
  • Attendance at, and representation of clients at, LADO child protection meetings.
  • Drafting children’s homes’ Individual Management Reports following the death of a child in care and supporting and advising through the Serious Case Review process.
  • Undertaking regulatory due diligence and preparation of reports regarding residential special schools, children’s homes and other health and social care settings.

Recent cases:

  • Caroline lead on the only successfully s.31 appeal, to date, for a hospital that had its registration revoked by the CQC on an emergency basis, resulting in the registration being re-instated and preserving business value of £8 million.
  • Caroline acted for a Care Home that had had its registration cancelled by a magistrates’ court after the CQC had applied for an order on an urgent basis. Caroline submitted an appeal to the First-Tier (Care Standards) Tribunal and worked in conjunction with consultants to ensure that the Home could demonstrate that it was able to meet the relevant regulations, despite there being no service users in the Home. As part of the appeal, Caroline negotiated Conditions of Registration that could be placed on the provider’s registration to assure the Tribunal that appropriate and measured steps would be taken to systematically re-open the Home to ensure service user’s well-being. The appeal was successful and the Tribunal re-instated the Home’s registration.
  • Caroline acted for a Care Home Provider who was subject to a Notice of Decision to remove one of its homes from its registration. Caroline drafted a robust appeal setting out why the the CQC was incorrect to take the action it sought and demonstrated, through detailed evidence, the position of the Home at the date the appeal was submitted. The CQC inspected the Home shortly after the appeal was submitted and found that the cancellation action was no longer required and the appeal was allowed before the substantive appeal process had even started.
  • Caroline acted for a Care Home that, following an inspection, received a draft inspection report where the Home was rated Inadequate in all outcomes and a Warning Notice was issued stating that the Home was in breach of a regulation and it could face prosecution if it did not remedy the breach. Caroline challenged both the Warning Notice and the draft inspection report on the basis that the CQC did not present robust, triangulated and objective evidence to support the conclusions it did. The inspector had made spurious conclusions and after requesting the inspection notes, it was clear that the contemporary evidence from the inspection did not allow the conclusions that had let to an Inadequate rating to be drawn. The CQC agreed to withdraw both the Warning Notice and the inspection report and the Home was re-inspected and all outcomes subsequently upgraded.

Read Caroline’s articles.

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