The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced that it has put a halt to all adult social care inspections in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In an email to care providers, the regulator said its primary objective during the outbreak will be to keep people safe during a “period of unprecedented pressure” on the health and care system, and as a result will be stopping inspections from today.
Chief inspector of Adult Social Care, Kate Terroni, said it may be necessary to use some inspection powers in a “very small number of cases” when the CQC has concerns of harm, such as allegations of abuse.
However, inspections will not be conducted “in their present form during the period of the pandemic”, she said.
“When physical inspections are deemed appropriate, we anticipate having a conversation with the provider before a visit takes place,” she added.
Terroni advised providers to notify the CQC within 24 hours of any suspected or known case or outbreak of coronavirus. This means one or more cases involving staff, people who use services, volunteers, visiting professionals and visitors or visiting contractors/suppliers that people within the service have had contact with.
The CQC is also encouraging care professionals to act in the best interests of the health of the people they serve, with the top priority the protection of life.
“We encourage you to use your discretion and act in the best way you see fit,” Terroni said.
Going forward, the CQC will act as a support for registered managers, offering advice and guidance throughout the period of the pandemic.
The regulator said it will be implementing the following:
- In the absence of a single national oversight body like NHS England for adult social care, we will continue to request Provider Information Returns (PIRs).
- However we will not penalise providers for the late return of PIRs
- In order to reduce your reporting burden we will share the information we collect from you with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups
- We will use the information gathered from PIRs to inform and influence government and commissioners to provide support and address issues such as workforce challenges
Speaking directly to providers, Terroni said: “Please can you pass my thanks to your dedicated workforce and for your leadership as we pull together during this difficult time to ensure people receive safe care. We will update you further if things change significantly.”
The CQC’s update follows the release of new coronavirus guidance from the government for home care providers.