Why Health & Social care Provisions Face Greater Risk of Criminal Prosecution


1st April 2015 was a significant date for both the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and health and social care providers. As of that day, the CQC no longer needs to issue a warning notice before starting criminal prosecutions in large numbers of cases.

This is an important regulatory development with wide-ranging repercussions. It increases considerably the chances of health and social care providers being prosecuted for breaching their fundamental duty to provide safe treatment and care.

As well as understanding what these changes mean, such providers must ensure their senior staff are briefed fully on what is now demanded of them.


What do these changes mean?

Previously, local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were responsible for health and safety enforcement at social and care facilities in England. These  organisations will continue dealing with health and safety cases involving staff, contractors, visitors and anyone not registered with the CQC.

It’s the CQC, however, that will now investigate any suspected issues regarding the welfare or health and safety of CQC regulated service users. These issues will be treated as possible breaches of the fundamental standard of ‘safe care’ and treatment.


Making things clearer

As you can imagine, it may not be immediately apparent which organisation should lead an investigation. So it’s important that providers seek clarification as soon as possible in such cases.

To make clear the CQC’s new powers, local authorities and the HSE have drawn up a memorandum of understanding. It contains useful examples of where the CQC would prosecute providers. The CQC has also published new guidance for providers on this topic, and a ‘decision tree’ that shows the stages a prosecution decision must follow.


More CQC investigations?

Will this new arrangement lead to more investigations by the CQC into health and safety breaches, that might not have been examined in the past? Without question. To avoid prosecutions, providers must have stringent health and safety systems and protocols in place.

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Getting in touch

If you have any questions on this issue, please contact Hettle Andrews today.