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Can The CQC Prosecute Healthcare Providers?

At HLTH Group, we understand that facing a prosecution
by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) can be a daunting and complex challenge.
Our team of former CQC inspectors, clinicians, and healthcare professionals, in
collaboration with CQC-specialist solicitors, is here to support healthcare
providers when they encounter enforcement action from the CQC.

CQC’s Criminal Enforcement Powers: The CQC possesses a
range of criminal enforcement powers, including the authority to prosecute and
issue fixed penalty notices or simple cautions to healthcare organizations and
specific individuals, such as directors and managers of registered providers.
However, these powers are invoked under specific circumstances.

Typically, the CQC considers criminal proceedings when:

  • The breach is deemed serious.
  • Multiple or persistent breaches occur.
  • A realistic prospect of conviction exists based on
    the evidence.
  • It is in the public interest to employ prosecution

A Growing Trend in Prosecutions: The CQC’s commitment
to taking proactive measures in response to regulatory breaches is evident in
the increasing number of prosecutions. A recent CQC list, updated on 3rd
January 2023, shows that since 2009, 85 prosecutions have been conducted, with
a substantial 55.29% of them occurring between 2020 and 2022.

Types of Offenses:

CQC’s reported prosecutions encompass a range of
offenses, including:

  • Section 10 of the Health & Social Care Act
    2008 – Carrying out a regulated activity without registration.
  • Regulations 12 & 22 of the Health and Social
    Care Act 2008 (Regulated activities) Regulations 2014 – Failure to provide
    safe care and treatment resulting in avoidable harm or significant risk.
  • Regulation 13 of the Health and Social Care Act
    2008 (Regulated activities) Regulations 2014 – Failure to safeguard people
    from suffering abuse or improper treatment.
  • Regulation 16 & 22 of the Health and Social
    Care Act 2008 (Regulated activities) Regulations 2014 – Failure to notify
    the CQC.
  • Regulation 20A of the Health and Social Care Act
    2008 (Regulated activities) Regulations 2014 – Failure to display CQC
    performance ratings.
  • Section 64 of the Health & Social Care Act
    2008 – Failure to provide necessary information for regulatory functions.

Impactful Fines: In the majority of the 85 listed
prosecutions, all but one party pleaded ‘guilty,’ with fines ranging from £500
to £2,533,332. The magnitude of these fines depends on various factors,
including the offense’s seriousness, culpability, harm caused, and the entity’s
financial circumstances.

Potential Imprisonment: While most CQC offenses lead to
fines, carrying out a regulated activity without registration, as per Section
10 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, can also result in a sentence of up
to 12 months imprisonment in addition to unlimited fines.

Expert Legal Guidance: If you are facing CQC
prosecution, seeking specialist legal advice at the earliest stage of a
potential criminal investigation is essential. Taking prompt and well-informed
actions can significantly impact the outcome, potentially avoiding court
proceedings altogether.

Stay Protected: By engaging in the legal process and
being represented appropriately in court, healthcare providers can safeguard
their interests, protect their reputation in the care sector, and improve their
chances of reducing any imposed fines.

If you are confronted with a CQC criminal investigation
or prosecution, do not hesitate to reach out to our specialist CQC solicitors
at HLTH Group. You can contact us at 0161 241 3163, and we will provide you
with the support and guidance you need to navigate this challenging process.
Your future and reputation in the healthcare industry are of utmost importance
to us, and we are here to help you every step of the way.