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Whistleblowing up 43 per cent between 2019-20

Whistleblowing in the UK’s care sector rose to its highest recorded level in 2020, driven by health and safety concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of whistleblowing complaints made to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has increased year-on-year since 2015, with a 43 per cent rise between 2019 and 2020, according to a care report published by law firm Pannone Corporate.

In total,14,508 enquiries were received last year.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the CQC – conducted by Pannone show that ‘concern’ enquiries increased by 39 per cent between 2015 and 2020. However, the number of safeguarding complaints fell to its lowest level last year to 25,847, driven in large part due to a reclassification of abuse notifications in March 2018 and an increase in providers notifying their local authorities in the first instance rather than the CQC.

The Care Report 2021 shows that regulatory interventions rose by 109 per cent between 2016 and 2019, although the number of unannounced inspections fell by 44 per cent.

The rise in interventions mirrors the number of enforcement actions carried out by the CQC, which revealed an 87 per cent increase since 2014/15.

The report shows that to date the CQC has had a clear preference for warning notices taking only “a limited number of prosecutions, at least when compared to prosecutions initiated by regulators in other sectors,” says Pannone Corporate director and lawyer Bill Dunkerley.

The increase in concerns suggests several causes, Dunkerley says:

  • an increasing number of adverse incidents and matters of concern occurring
  • greater awareness of potential issues of concern and are reporting these
  • more awareness of the CQC’s role as regulator and its power  

Pannone Corporate director and lawyer Bill Dunkerley said: “In light of the … apparent realisation of the intention to prosecute more cases, it’s imperative that service providers review their procedures, systems and address risk areas in anticipation of inspection or intervention.”


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