Under the new fit and proper persons requirements, from 1 April all health and care service providers will be required to ensure that any new directors of the service are fit and proper to carry out that role. This includes, among other factors, that they are good character, have the necessary skills and experience, and have not been involved in serious misconduct or mismanagement of another service provider (click here for more information about individual complaints made under the new regulations and a critique of the test). In addition, the details of all managers and company secretaries of the provider (including the registered manager) must be provided to CQC. The service provider must then be satisfied that they are also of good character and have the necessary skills and experience.
In December we blogged about the implementation of the statutory duty of candour in NHS settings. Under the amended regulations, once the duty is triggered the reporting requirements are the same for both NHS and non-NHS service providers, but the definition of a "notifiable safety incident", which triggers the duty, will be broader for non-NHS providers than their NHS counterparts. While the current definition of a notifiable safety incident (an unintended incident resulting in the death of or moderate harm to, a service user) will remain in place for NHS providers, non-NHS providers will also be expected to comply with the duty of candour after an unintended incident that results in changes to the structure of the service user's body, prolonged pain or psychological harm, the shortening of life expectancy or further treatment to prevent any of these.
Finally, from April all service providers must display at their premises their most recent rating from CQC relating to those premises. These signs must be conspicuous and in a place where they can be seen by service users. In addition on their websites they will be required to link to the CQC website and their latest CQC inspection, as well as displaying their most recent rating.
The expansion of both the fit and proper test and the duty of candour was expected. However it is interesting to note how the requirements of the duty of candour will be triggered in more situations for private sector care providers than for NHS bodies. Much of the CQC guidance on the introduction of the duty for NHS bodies reiterated that it was designed to reinforce existing NHS practices rather than create new obligations. In addition, the introduction of a "scores on the doors" scheme for care providers will allow service users (and potential service users) to see more easily how the provider is doing. While it may be designed to help prevent scandals such as the recent closures of Merok Park and Grantley Court care homes (see this post), many of the concerns about these homes such as poor cleanliness, the overpowering smell of urine, poor staffing levels and broken equipment would already have been relatively obvious to visitors.