Henrietta Frew

Senior Associate Solicitor

DATE PUBLISHED: 09 Apr 2024 LAST UPDATED: 15 Apr 2024

Factual Accuracy under the New CQC Assessment Framework

Providers will be aware that CQC has been progressively rolling out its new assessment framework since November 2023. The process is now nearing completion, with most providers in England now subject to the new framework.

Assessments under the new framework will either be planned or responsive, if CQC are concerned about a service. CQC have said that they are keeping the frequency of assessments under review until the end of June 2024, with a view to publishing a more detailed schedule for planned assessments at the start of July 2024. It is anticipated that this will include a date by which ratings for all providers will be updated. It is important that providers keep up to date with the specifics of the guidance, to ensure they understand what to expect from new inspections and assessments.

Under the new framework, there are 34 Quality Statements and 6 Evidence Categories, which are reinforced by specific guidance on evidence categories that CQC will prioritise for each sector. Detailed guidance on these is easily accessible, which should encourage providers to feel better able to identify what evidence they need to prepare for assessments and fulfil the categories that CQC will be assessing. The use of specific sector guidance should enable CQC to be more flexible, as it will be able to tailor its assessment framework to the relevant sector of a service. CQC have stated:

“The way we make our decisions about ratings will be clearer and easier to understand.”

Should a provider later wish to challenge a draft inspection report, the information gathered in the pre-assessment stage will be crucial. The Factual Accuracy process allows providers to tell CQC where information is factually incorrect and/or evidence in the report may be incomplete.

What are the key elements of the new Factual Accuracy process?

Key elements of the new Factual Accuracy process are:

  1. CQC will email the appropriate registered person with a link so they can review the draft report online;
  2. Providers will then be able to enter comments about factual accuracy against each relevant section of the report;
  3. Providers will be able to upload evidence to support comments against CQC’s evidence categories;
  4. Providers can send CQC information about action taken since the assessment that addresses concerns raised, but unless there are exceptional circumstances, this new information will not form part of CQC’s decision around final judgements or ratings;
  5. Providers have 10 working days from the date they receive the email with the link to the draft report to review it and submit any comments about factual accuracy. This period will not usually be extended.

Why is it important to submit a Factual Accuracy challenge?

If a report contains negative findings or ratings of ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’, this can have an adverse impact on a service if it is not challenged. Similarly, a provider might challenge a draft report where it considers CQC to have been harsh in applying a ‘Good’ rather than ‘Outstanding’ rating.

If a provider does not challenge a draft report, CQC will presume that the contents are accurate. If CQC were to later take any enforcement action against the provider, the fact that the provider has not challenged inspection findings in draft reports can make it more difficult for the provider to then dispute that enforcement action. If a provider is not completely satisfied with a draft report, it is therefore important to submit a factual accuracy challenge, to do so quickly given the strict time limit, and to have those on record.

How can Ellis Jones help?

Our Healthcare Team recognise the pressures that care providers are under and the time restraints that most have to deal with this issue. To ease that pressure, we can provide you with concise, comprehensive and practical advice and work with you to protect your position by robustly challenging the factual accuracy of a draft inspection report. Please contact Henrietta Frew at Henrietta.Frew@ellisjones.co.uk or phone 01202 057863, to discuss your matter further.

How can we help?

When you submit this form an email will be sent to the relevant department who will contact you within 48 hours. If you require urgent advice please call 01202 525333.

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