Social Services: Human Rights

House of Lords written question – answered on 25th June 2014.

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Photo of Lord Low of Dalston Lord Low of Dalston Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make available to Parliament their assessment of the impact of the stronger regulatory powers available to the Care Quality Commission since 2008 on the provision of human rights-compatible care to service users, including the evidence on which that assessment is based, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report Legislative Scrutiny: Care Bill (11th Report, Session 2013–14, HL Paper 121).

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care providers in England. Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (2008 Act) all providers of regulated activities have to register with the CQC and meet a set of requirements of safety and quality. As the CQC is a public authority it has a legal obligation in relation to protecting, respecting and fulfilling people’s rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 (1998 Act).

If a provider fails to meet these requirements the CQC has a wide range of enforcement powers that it can use to protect patients and service users from the risk of poor care.

The CQC has advised that it has taken the following published enforcement action during the financial year 2013-14.

- The CQC undertook two urgent cancellations of providers’ registration;- The CQC undertook 53 cancellations of providers’ registration;- The CQC imposed a condition on a provider on 45 occasions;- The CQC varied a provider’s condition of registration on 13 occasions;- The CQC undertook an urgent variation of a provider’s conditions of registration on 13 occasions;- The CQC imposed 1,269 warning notices on providers and 18,408 compliance actions on providers; and- The CQC issued over 500 fixed penalty notices.

The CQC monitors and inspects health and social care providers under regulations which stipulate that providers must deliver care and treatment to people with due regard to their age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, race, cultural and linguistic background and disability (Regulation 17).

Where services do not meet standards for Regulation 17, the CQC sets compliance actions and monitors whether providers have taken action to meet the standard. If they have not, the CQC may take enforcement action. Between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013, the CQC found 48 services did not comply with Regulation 17, leading to enforcement action. This enforcement action is set out in the following table.

Enforcement action around Regulation 17 in 2012-13
Acute hospitals 1
Mental health hospitals/hospitals for people with a learning disability 2
General practitioners 0
Dentists 2
Care homes 36
Home care agencies 3
Other social care services 4
Total 48

The CQC’s consultationA New Start, in June 2013 on how it regulates, inspects and rates services included a section on how Human Rights would be protected by changes to its regulatory model. To accompany the consultation, the CQC produced a draft document entitled, “Equality and Human Rights Duties Impact Analysis (decision making and policies)”, to give more detail about the impact of the proposed changes on equality and human rights and how they would promote equality and human rights for people who use health and social care services.

The CQC also consulted on its approach to human rights as part of a broader consultation on changes to regulation of care services. The CQC explained its proposed strategy for delivering on its commitment to promote equality, diversity and human rights in its regulatory work; to provide detail about what the strategy will mean in practice; and to receive feedback from important stakeholders.

The CQC held the consultation between 9 April 2014 and 4 June 2014. The CQC will respond to the results of the consultation in September 2014.

The consultation can be found at the following web link: human_rights_approach_public_consultation_final.pdf

In January 2014 the CQC published “Equality Counts”, a report providing information about equality in its workforce and for people who are affected by its regulatory policies and practices. The CQC will use the information in this report to drive its work in promoting equality and human rights, both in its regulatory functions and as an employer. The CQC will continue to develop its new approach to ensure equality in different types of health and social care services.

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