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Tribunal ruling confirms the Care Quality Committee (CQC) were right to use its enforcement powers with Sussex Health Care

Posted on: 19/12/2018

First-tier Tribunal confirms CQC enforcement action against Sussex Health Care  

The CQC confirms that the First-tier Tribunal has ruled that the Care Quality Commission was right to use its enforcement powers to protect residents living in 18 care homes in Sussex. 

The CQC has stated that:

After finding a large number of concerns on successive inspections, CQC had proposed imposing specific conditions on Sussex Health Care requiring monthly reports on all its services until further notice.   The provider had appealed against the decision. After a hearing lasting five days, the First-tier Tribunal has ruled in CQC’s favour.

CQC had provided evidence that inspections had continued to find concerns about the quality of services and a failure by the provider to deal with the risks to people in their care.

In dismissing the appeal, Judge Siobhan Goodrich, said “The matters found on inspection that gave rise to the imposition of the conditions were serious. Some improvements have been noted, in some areas and in some locations, on recent inspections, but there are still serious concerns about the services provided at the vast majority of the locations. In our view the concerns are real, entrenched and current.

The judge said that CQC’s Head of Inspection, Amanda Stride, was an impressive witness who demonstrated that she had given a great deal of care and considered thought to the conditions which she considered necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of people using the services. 

She said: “We are satisfied that the decisions regarding conditions are objectively justified and necessary in order to uphold the public interest in the protection of the safety and well-being of service users and to maintain and promote public confidence in the system of regulation.  

“In our view the decision to impose each of the conditions on the provider is reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the legitimate public interest.”

 In welcoming the decision, CQC’s Chief inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said:  

“This is an important case in confirming our decision to take action against a provider who has been consistently failing to protect the interests of the people in their care.

“Since April 2017, our inspections have found a pattern of poor care in many of the care homes provided by Sussex Health Care.  The services have been deteriorating, people have been put at risk, and the provider has been slow to respond to incidents or deal with people’s healthcare needs.      

“At one care home, we found a service that was unsafe because of risks from choking, lack of access to their call bells, falls, poor hydration management, improper use of pressure-relieving equipment, and poor staff practice that went unchallenged by the managers.  In that case we used our urgent enforcement powers to remove the location from the care register. 

“Following this judgement by the First-tier Tribunal, we have imposed conditions on all their remaining services to ensure that the residents are safe, and receiving the standard of care that everyone has the right to expect.”

Background

Since April 2017, CQC inspections of the 18 care homes registered have found widespread breaches of regulations, including concerns around staff not responding to incidents and health needs appropriately, inconsistencies in the management of risks, staff not receiving training, and a lack of effective quality assurance and governance arrangements to identify and address these issues.

 As a result of these concerns, the First-tier Tribunal dismissed the appeal allowing CQC to impose the conditions.  In summary, the provider must submit a report every month that: 

  • analyses all incidents that have resulted in harm to people using services at each registered location in the previous month, and setting out the action taken as a result;
  • analyses all unplanned hospital admissions and all deaths at each registered location in the previous month, actions taken by staff leading up to the admission or death and the action taken; 
  • sets out the steps taken to assess staffing levels   and the skills and competence of those staff to support people’s needs. Provides the details of plans for the following month for staff training, competency checks and supervision of staff deployed.  

Sussex Health Care which consists of SHC Rapkyns Group Limited & SHC Clemsfold Group Limited is the largest provider of care for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and complex physical disabilities in the county of Sussex. They operate 18 locations and provide care for over 450 people, mostly funded by local authorities.