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CQC forced to issue warning notices

15th April 2010

The Health Service Journal has reported that powers given to the Care Quality Commission have been watered down.

nurse cuts

The move has seen a weakening of the regulator’s powers to prosecute trusts failing to meet registration standards in an effort to head off legal challenges and bad publicity.

HSJ says it has seen e-mailed documents on the subject which reveal powers allowing the CQC to treat failures as criminal offences were called “unusual and unexpected” by the Commons joint committee for statutory instruments.

The CQC is understood to have opposed the move because that would make it more difficult for it to bring about prosecutions with a requirement to force it to issue draft registration decisions which could leave it vulnerable to challenges from providers.

The Department of Health has added an amendment to the CQC’s powers, forcing it to issue warning notices before bringing prosecutions with trusts having a right to appeal registration.

It has also emerged that CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower was pressured into announcing registration decisions in batches, rather than in one go on 1 April.

That followed health secretary Andy Burnham’s pledge to bring the registration process forward in response to the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust scandal.

However, the CQC told HSJ it made the announcements on registration in batches due to the high volume of data involved in the process and because of the need to inform a wide range of stakeholders.

All 378 NHS trusts in England have now been registered but 22 had conditions imposed on them.

 

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