Regulator wants new enforcement powers to tackle poor providers

The Commission for Social Care Inspection is to set up seven new enforcement teams and seek stronger statutory powers from the government in a bid to crack down on poor providers.

A team will be established in each CSCI region to draw up legal documentation, advise inspectors, and lead all enforcement work with unregistered services.

A paper agreed by the regulator’s commissioners last week said the teams were needed to “improve the speed, quality and consistency of our enforcement activity”.

It said that at present, statutory enforcement notices “can take too long to produce, may not be robust and some require substantial review by legal services”.The paper also proposed extending CSCI’s powers in dealing with cases that were not considered “urgent” – meaning it could not apply for services to be closed immediately – but did involve “continuing and chronic poor standards” (see CSCI’s enforcement powers).

CSCI said an example of where the new powers would be needed would be where there had been concerns about poor medicine practice that had clearly put services users at risk, but the expected rapid improvement had not occurred.

The regulator also wants powers to impose immediate time-limited restrictions on new admissions to services for non-urgent cases and to challenge a provider of multiple services centrally rather than tackling its services individually.

And CSCI will also call for the law on adult protection to be brought into line with child protection by requiring the regulator to pay particular regard to the need to safeguard the rights and welfare of vulnerable adults, a provision which currently applies to children.

Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald said: “The idea of enforcement teams seems to make sense both in terms of getting some speed into some situations and getting some consistency across the board. I like the direction of travel they are going in.”

CSCI’s enforcement powers
Where there is serious and immediate risk to users, CSCI can apply to a magistrate to urgently close a service or restrict provision. Below this threshold, providers can appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal over proposed closures or restrictions, meaning enforcement action may not take effect for up to eight months.

Further information
Commission for Social Care Inspection
Action on Elder Abuse

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  Simeon Brody

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