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Law firms warn of 242% increase in average CQC fines

The healthcare watchdog is prosecuting and fining care homes and registered providers more now than pre-pandemic, analysis from law firm Shakespeare Martineau has revealed.

When comparing pre-pandemic (2017-2019) with pandemic and post-pandemic (2020-2022), prosecutions by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) increased by 50 per cent – from 30 to 45. The research also found that the largest fine handed down pre-pandemic was £225,170 in 2019. During and post-pandemic, this was £2.5 million, which was delivered in 2021.

On average average fines have increased by 242 per cent to more than £550,000. In comparison, the average fine pre-pandemic was just over £160,000.

After a downturn in activity during the lockdowns and some cases taking more than three years to be brought forward, experts from Shakespeare Martineau expect this to increase further.

Regulation 12 (safe care and treatment) was the most breached over the past six years, accounting for 63 per cent of all prosecutions.

Jordan Glackin, healthcare partner at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “With more catching up likely to be done and the sector being placed firmly under a microscope during the pandemic, particularly in the eyes of the public, we expect this activity to increase further – especially as some cases have taken more than three years to be brought forward.

The data also provides some regional insight: prosecutions in the southern regions have doubled, and in the North and Midlands, they have increased by a total of 54 per cent. The most significant increase in prosecutions by region is in the South East, where the number of charges have risen by 267 per cent.

Jordan added: “As the CQC is using its powers more than ever, it is vital providers ensure compliance with their regulatory and legal obligations; keep detailed and accurate records; stay up-to-date with any legal or policy changes; and seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.”

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