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Understanding the CQC’s new Emergency Support Framework

By Neil Grant, Partner & Health & Social Care Solicitor, Gordons Partnership

On Friday 1 May, CQC published details of what it calls its Emergency Support Framework (ESF), setting out how it will interact with providers and managers during the pandemic and for an undefined period thereafter. So, what does it involve?

In essence, it is very simple. The inspector will call the manager of the particular service and engage in a Q&A session, focussing on how the service is coping during the pandemic. The answers (plus any wider intelligence CQC holds about the location) will be used to judge whether the service is “managing” or “needs support.”

What concerns me is that CQC says the “conversation” with managers is not a regulatory process. According to CQC , the ESF is not an inspection and will not lead to a rating. But, by taking this line, providers and managers will not be able to submit factual accuracy comments on the “summary record” of the conversation that will be supplied by CQC . What if it contains errors or is incomplete? Providers must have a right of reply in such circumstances.

It is apparent that the conversation with the manager is part of an assessment or review of the performance of the particular service and it may lead to an inspection and enforcement action. It is therefore a regulatory process, nothing more, nothing less. CQC is plainly wrong
on this point.
The CQC has identified the broad discussion areas as follows:

  • Safe care and treatment
  • Staffing arrangements
  • Protection from abuse
  • Assurance processes, monitoring and risk management

I assume there will be questions about PPE, COVID-19 infections, infection prevention and control and stocks of medicines. However, it would be fairer and more beneficial if the questions were clear in advance.

Prioritising calls
Not all services will get a call from CQC, probably only those considered at higher risk . It will be risk assessed.

What the manager says will be recorded and used to judge performance and compliance. Information will also be shared with third parties.

If there is an inspection (site visit) during the pandemic, for social care providers this will be targeted, rather than the ‘focused’ inspection other providers receive. It is not clear what the differences are.

Read the full article online.

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