In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) established the Emergency Support Framework (ESF) to ensure the CQC could continue to practice its regulatory function in maintaining safety across health and social care settings. Although all routine inspections are currently on hold, the CQC aims to use the ESF for the purpose of collating information and intelligence from a number of sources to assist the CQC with issues such as monitoring risk, identifying where support is required and delivering safe care.
In order to clarify how information collated via the ESF will be utilised in practice, The CQC and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care Services (ADASS) issued a joint statement on 20 May, a summary of which can be found below.
Information of concern:
For any urgent concerns reported such as staff shortages or safeguarding issues, the CQC will continue to ‘share relevant information with the DASS or their delegate.’
Immediate conversations will take place between the CQC, the DASS and provider where the situation is urgent.
‘Where concerns arise (both urgent and non-urgent) through the ESF, CQC will feed these through to ADASS regional chairs and regional staff via Regional Incident Centres.’
ESF summary record:
Providers will be sent a summary of discussions had between them and the inspector, and will only be shared by the CQC and provided to the DASS if support is needed. The record will not be shared with the local authority, however the provider has the option to share this information if they would like to.
It is stressed here that discussions with providers must continue to take place to ensure safe practices are maintained amongst providers and support is available where it is needed. To prevent overwhelming providers with multiple information requests, ‘regional CQC managers will inform local authorities of the assessments planned for their area; frequency to be agreed locally.’
To maintain safety and service continuity as much as possible, support may come from either ‘the CCG, NHS acute trust or other providers in the locality.’
The CQC will communicate with local authorities to share an overview of findings including information on best practice and anything else ‘at a systems level that is deemed useful to understanding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.’ This information will also be used to inform the CQC’s independent publications.
Hopefully the above will provide some clarity for health and social providers registered with the CQC on information collated under the ESF, including how and with whom it will be shared. The joint statement in full can be found here.
Victoria Mortimer, Trainee Solicitor, BLM