The government has set out provisions to enable the Care Quality Commission to bar ‘unfit’ directors from running social care organisations.
From October, the CQC would be able to prevent providers from registering or sanction registered organisations if they employed a board member deemed unfit by the regulator, under the plans set out in draft regulations published for consultation yesterday.
The CQC would also keep a record of its decisions so that it would be alerted if a director deemed unfit was appointed to a similar role at another organistion.
The proposals – part of the Department of Health’s response to the Mid Staffordshire and Winterbourne View scandals – are designed to ensure that people who preside over poor care are prevented from continuing to lead social care or health organisations.
The regulations would place registered providers under a legal duty to ensure board members, charitable trustees or their equivalents were of good character, have the necessary skills and qualifications for their role, be capable of undertaking the role after reasonable adjustments and not be prohibited from holding it by company or charity law.
‘Misconduct or mismanagement’
Critically, they should also not have been responsible for any misconduct or mismanagement in the course of any employment with a CQC registered provider.
Providers would be responsible for ensuring all their directors pass the “fit and proper persons test”, including by looking into their past employment history, and the chairs or equivalents of the organisation would have to sign this off.
In certain cases – for example where the person was barred from working with vulnerable adults or children through the Disclosure and Barring Scheme or are subject to a bankruptcy order – they would be automatically prevented from serving as a director.
Otherwise, the CQC would make a judgement based on the evidence it receives.
Where a provider is seeking to register a service, the CQC could refuse to register unless an unfit director is removed. Where the service is already registered, the CQC could make it a condition of ongoing registration that the director is removed.
If the provider does not refuse this, the CQC will be able to take enforcement action, up to and including prosecution or cancellation of registration.
As well as keeping a record of directors deemed unfit, the CQC will also record other concerns – such as where a director has resigned prior to being deemed unfit by the CQC – that could lead to people being prevented from taking senior roles in other organisations.
Duty of candour
Earlier this week, the DH set out accompanying plans for registered health and social care providers to be under a “duty of candour”, requiring them to inform service users and patients or their families when things go wrong with their care.
Under draft regulations issued for consultation, adult social care providers would have to report safety incidents that appear to have resulted in the person’s death, impairment to their physical or intellectual functions, prolonged psychological harm or shortening life expectancy.
In such cases, the provider would have to inform the service user or anyone acting on their behalf that the incident had occurred, and provide them with all relevant information and reasonable support.
They would have to provide this information in person, record it in writing, provide a truthful account, apologise and report back on any further enquiries into the incident. If possible, the provider should agree what these enquiries should be with the person.
Where providers breach the duty of candour, the CQC would be able to take enforcement action. Though the DH said this power should be used “proportionately” and that the regulator would not be able to provide service users with redress.
The consultation on both sets of draft regulations runs until 25 April and will be followed by final regulations that will be published for approval by Parliament. Both duties are due to come into force in October.