CQC says that where concerns are identified, its response will be proportionate and depend on the potential impact on service-users. This will often be in the form of a recommendation in its report.
CQC is piloting a special measures scheme for practices that are found to be providing inadequate care which it hopes to implement from April 2015.
Under the scheme, practices which have been rated as inadequate for one or more of the five key questions or of the six population groups will be given a specified period for re-inspection (no longer than six months). If a practice fails to demonstrate sufficient improvement, CQC can consult with NHS England about placing it into special measures for a maximum of six months. If there is still no improvement after that time, the provider's registration can be cancelled.
Ultimately, where there has been a breach of regulations (or practices have failed to make improvements), CQC may use its enforcement powers, including:
- Warning notices telling a provider that they are not complying with a condition of registration or any other legal requirement CQC thinks is relevant.
- Civil law enforcement action may be taken to protect patients from harm by improving the care given to patients, or make it safer. This will normally be by imposing or changing a condition of registration; or suspending or cancelling registration.
- Criminal law proceedings may be used where CQC want to hold a registered person to account for causing harm to patients, or for failing to meet their statutory obligations. Criminal proceedings may result in a fixed penalty notice being served, a caution or prosecution, where a court may convict a registered person resulting in a fine and/or imprisonment.
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