On 28th January 2019, the CQC implemented changes to their inspection report writing template and processes. The CQC state that these changes have been produced with and tested by care providers and inspectors and will apply to all inspection reports in respect of inspections carried out from 1st March 2019.
The changes will mean that providers will now see clearer formatting within the report, including the use of heading and bullet points instead of numerous paragraphs of text. The CQC state that this will make inspection reports easier to read. However, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to less detail than usually expected in draft reports, which could potentially make ratings and judgments much harder to challenge in the factual accuracy and ratings review processes.
The CQC also make clear that the inspectors will be aiming to contact registered providers and managers to discuss the inspection reports around two days after the draft report is sent out, in order to explain how the inspectors have reached their inspection judgments.
Whilst this may be a welcome change for some providers, who often feel frustrated by the findings outlined within draft reports, it is important that providers think carefully about their discussions with the inspectors at this stage. It would be advisable for providers to ensure that they have read the draft inspection report in detail before discussing it with the inspector, as anything they discuss with the inspector, including any admissions they make, may be taken into consideration during the factual accuracy process. It would be much harder to challenge the factual accuracy of an inspection finding if a provider has already admitted or accepted its accuracy during this initial discussion.
Some providers may have already been having some form of informal discussion with their inspectors on receipt of draft reports but this change now builds this discussion into the formal process for inspection reports. It should be noted that providers are under no obligation to engage in this discussion with their inspector but in most cases, it is likely to be advisable for you to engage with the inspector and sustain a good working relationship with the CQC wherever possible. The key to this stage will be to ensure that providers are well prepared for any discussion with their inspector.
Commenting on these changes, Debbie Westhead, the CQC’s Interim Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, has said:
“In our piloting of this, we’ve found it has helped providers to better understand how we arrived at our judgments and helped clarify issues or concerns or celebrate Outstanding care. As a result, some challenges that might previously have been made have been avoided which has allowed us to publish some reports more quickly – a good thing for providers, CQC and the public.”
At Stephensons, we have a specialist team of CQC lawyers who regularly assist providers and managers nationwide in relation to factual accuracy challenges and ratings review requests. If you require any advice or assistance, please contact us now on 01616 966 229 or complete our online enquiry form.