In recent months, it has come to our attention that many of our clients are being incorrectly advised of their deadline for making a factual accuracy challenge to their draft inspection reports by their inspectors.
When issuing a draft report, care providers will usually receive a letter accompanying the draft report, both of which are sent by email to the provider. The CQC’s letter states as follows:
“Once you have received the email with the draft report, you have 10 working days from the date of the email to submit:
- The points you wish to make.
- Any extra supporting information that you think is essential for us to consider that may influence the content of the report and/or our judgements…”
In many of the cases that we have dealt with, this letter has often been dated one or more days before the email enclosing the report is actually sent. In light of this, many inspectors have been advising providers that their deadline is much earlier than it actually is.
We can only presume that the CQC’s internal systems are calculating the deadline from the date their letter is generated, on the basis that it is assumed that the letter will be sent to the provider on the same day. However, this does not appear to be happening in many of the cases we have dealt with. This has meant that inspectors have been demanding factual accuracy challenges before the 10 working day period has expired; advising providers that they are out of time for the submission of their challenge; or proceeding to publish reports that have not yet been finalised through this process.
It is therefore important that upon receiving a draft report, care providers calculate the correct deadline from the date they receive the draft report by email. In cases where the CQC’s covering letter is dated prior to the date a provider receives their draft report, it would also be advisable for providers to email their inspector to obtain written confirmation of the deadline. This will ensure that providers benefit from the full 10 working day period and that their report is not published before it has been properly quality checked through the factual accuracy process, where required.
The factual accuracy process is an important process and should be utilised by any care provider who is not satisfied with the factual accuracy and completeness of the evidence on which the ratings within the report are based. That said, providers need to ensure that they have solid grounds for any challenge; each challenge to the report is set out clearly and concisely; and it is supported with robust documentary evidence.
If you have received a draft inspection and want to make a factual accuracy challenge, we have a team of specialist CQC lawyers who would be happy to help you. You can view some of our recent cases on our case studies page here.