The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is not adequately prepared to handle the process of registering care services in England that will start within weeks, according to provider leaders.
The CQC is set to start registering 24,000 care providers at the beginning of April, under the new system brought in by the Health and Social Care Act 2008. It is expected to call providers to register in groups until the end of August, with a deadline for registration of the beginning of October.
Earlier this month, in a letter to CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower, the United Kingdom Homecare Association’s head of policy and communication, Colin Angel, expressed concern over a lack of information given to providers about the process, so close to its commencement.
He requested a meeting with the CQC to discuss the concerns but has not received an appointment date, although he is a member of the CQC’s provider advisory group, whose next meeting is on 26 March.
Angel told Community Care: “We are extremely disappointed about the handling of the registration process. We fear that CQC isn’t adequately prepared for the enormous communication exercise facing them.”
Among the issues the UKHCA feels need clarification are the implications for organisations of missing their four-week window for registration, the criteria for refusal of registration and how providers’ existing quality ratings will transfer to the new registration system.
Angel added that the information available from the CQC’s helpline was not consistent or accurate, while he said the regulator risked “missing the opportunity to use the extensive technical knowledge available from providers’ representative bodies”.
This concern was echoed by Registered Nursing Home Association chief executive Frank Ursell, who claimed the CQC was using management consultants who were not knowledgeable about the sector to help communicate with providers.
Ursell added that he felt the CQC had left little time for any unexpected delays in the process.
Linda Hutchinson, director of registration at the CQC, said: “We have written on several occasions to all providers and are writing to them again next week (beginning 15 March) explaining how they can submit their application for registration.”
Hutchinson said the CQC has engaged with nearly 100 different providers through its online reference group, which has been “testing and commenting on the registration guidance as we have been developing it”.
She added: “Each provider will be notified in advance of the dates of a four-week ‘window’, between April and September, during which they will be able to make their application. We are running sessions with provider associations from next week to demonstrate how the online application process will work.”