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The devil is
in the detail
Hope Davis-McCallion examines CQC’s new draft guidance on
factual accuracy process – and the main changes for providers
t has been nearly two years since the CQC last issued guidance on their
factual accuracy process. During this time, it has been noticeable to
providers and solicitors who work in this field that inspectors tire of
parts of the guidance. It should come as no surprise then that CQC have
issued new draft guidance for all providers on the process. But, have they
improved the process for providers or simply changed it to make their
Published earlier this year, the ‘factual accuracy checking process’ has been
updated to allow providers to:
• challenge any information that is factually incorrect
• tell CQC where their evidence in the report may be incomplete
This reasoning isn’t too dissimilar from their guidance issued in 2017, but closer
inspection shows there are several changes within the draft guidance which
providers need to be aware of. As the saying goes, the devil is in the detail.
The main changes have been summarised below:
01 Instead of being sent a Word document to complete the factual accuracy
check, CQC will send an email to the appropriate registered person and this
will include a copy of the draft report and a link to download a form to
provide a response. CQC say they ‘will not usually accept
factual accuracy comments in any other format’.
Providers need to be aware of this and ensure they
tell CQC immediately if they cannot respond using
02 If any evidence is sent to support sections B and C
of the document, providers must specify the page
and paragraph number and highlight the exact
wording in the document that is relevant to the
point you are making. This point is particularly
important as if this is not made clear, the inspector
will need to ask the provider for it and if it’s not
provided then CQC have the powers to not consider the
03 Providers can send CQC information about action they have taken since the
inspection that ‘addresses the concerns we raised with you, or which is
included in the draft report’. It is then within
CQC’s powers to decide whether to include this
new information in the final report. However,
most importantly, unless there are exceptional
circumstances, this new information will not
form part of the final judgments or ratings.
Despite CQC previously allowing it, providers are
not allowed to ask to see the inspector’s notes
from an inspection or details of people the inspectors spoke with – a highly
controversial issue to say the least. Inspection notes and details of people
the inspectors spoke with form the main reasoning behind the draft
inspection report. Why then, are providers not allowed to see CQC’s main
evidence behind the justification for the report and ratings? Ridouts would
still challenge for notes under the relevant statutory provisions where they
are pertinent to questions of reliability.
5. Providers cannot ask CQC for information about workers who have reported
concerns to them due to confidentiality.
The above changes may seem small, but in practice could be onerous and taxing
for the provider. For example, it will be a burdensome task specifying the details
of the evidence referred to in the report, and one that can only benefit the
person reading it.
It is purely at CQC’s discretion whether new information about action taken
since the inspection will be included in the report. However, in the interest of the
provider, will CQC explain the reasoning as to why they have or, more
importantly, have not included the information?
As already mentioned, the exclusion of the inspector’s notes and details of
the people the inspectors spoke to stops the provider from really understanding
the justification for the inspector’s report and rating.
It is important to note that this is draft guidance following a consultation
CQC ran last year. Providers need to keep a careful check on this and the
changes to the process. It is imperative that providers
challenge inspection reports where they
dispute the findings, ensuring that the report
is accurate and gives a proper and true
reflection at the time of the inspection.
Hope Davis-McCallion is a solicitor at
Ridouts, a specialist law firm that has
a core expertise in health and social
care law, www.ridout-law.com
It is imperative that
inspection reports where
they dispute the findings.
March 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 13