Inadequate rating and Notice of Decision
An owner of a small number of care homes had received a CQC Notice of Proposal following an inspection that had rated one of the care homes as Inadequate. All other care homes in the group were rated as Good.
The CQC Notice of Proposal was to remove the location of the Inadequate rated home from the owner’s Certificate of Registration.
The owner made representations herself against the Notice of Proposal but CQC did not accept these and decided to issue a Notice of Decision. This meant that the home would have to close unless the owner appealed to the First-tier Tribunal within 28 days.
Legal services exclusive to clients of QCG
It was at this stage that the owner approached QCG, her insurance broker, for guidance. QCG then referred the owner to a specialist lawyer, Errol Archer, who regularly represents providers in CQC appeals and other regulatory matters and is a Consultant Solicitor Advocate at Scott Moncrief & Associates Ltd.
Errol immediately made contact with the owner and provided initial free and confidential advice to assist her in deciding whether to appeal. He also provided the owner with a highly competitive discounted fixed fee quote to conduct the appeal. This was done under a discounted fee arrangement which Scott Moncrieff & Associates Ltd makes available exclusively to clients of QCG.
Preparing the appeal
Working closely with the owner, Errol developed a strategy for handling the appeal and dealing with CQC, and he drafted detailed grounds for appeal. He cross-referenced these grounds for appeal to supporting evidence provided by the owner and submitted the appeal to the tribunal office within the 28-day deadline.
Identifying and locating relevant evidence is crucial in winning appeals and Errol and the owner spent some time ensuring that the evidence in support was strong and highly relevant.
Once a provider submits an appeal to the tribunal and it is sent to CQC, CQC has 20 working days to respond. CQC must decide whether to:
1. defend the appeal;
2. agree to give the provider more time to meet the regulations and agree a ‘stay’ of the appeal; or
3. allow the appeal – effectively bringing the enforcement to an end.
Further inspection and CQC request an extension of time
While Errol and the owner were waiting for CQC’s response, CQC inspectors carried out an unannounced inspection of the home. The inspection went well and the inspectors gave the owner and manager positive feedback.
This was good news and so Errol and the owner were surprised when CQC’s lawyers approached Errol three days before the 20 day deadline asking the owner to agree to CQC having more time to prepare their response.
Errol replied firmly to CQC’s lawyers, on the owner’s behalf, refusing to agree to the extension, emphasising that CQC had recently provided positive feedback at the inspection and highlighting that on the evidence CQC should allow the appeal.
CQC agree to allow the appeal and stop all enforcement action
Two days later CQC’s lawyers contacted Errol explaining that CQC was willing to allow the appeal and requesting that the owner agree to a ‘Consent Order’ for the tribunal to formally allow the appeal and to bring an end to the tribunal process.
The Consent Order was agreed and the tribunal formally issued the Order several days later. This brought to an end CQC’s enforcement against the home.
The owner has since received an improved inspection report and the home continues to provide high quality care to existing and newly admitted residents.